Monday, March 31, 2014

Questioning the Value of Walkthroughs

A recent study found that principals spend an average of 12.7% of their time on activities to improve instruction and 5.4% of their time on classroom walk-throughs. The time was slightly higher in elementary school than in secondary schools. But what's really interesting is that the study found that classroom walk-throughs were negatively associated with student performance, as measured by standardized tests, particularly in high schools. On the other hand, the same study found that there were achievement gains when principals worked to improve the school's curriculum and/or spent time coaching teachers.

Principals reported that they used walk-throughs to "check up" on teacher performance and to be visible throughout their school. While principals saw the walk-throughs positively, their teachers found them less valuable and even intrusive.

The study published in Educational Researcher (Grissom, Loeb & Master, 2013), gathered data from the Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Observers followed principals one full school day for each of three years. Follow-up interviews with principals provided additional data. This article from Education Week summarizes the findings.

Walk-throughs are widely used in American schools as a tool for instructional improvement. But this study shows there is much to learn about their link to improvement. I'd enjoy hearing from you about the use of walk-throughs in your school. 

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