Dec 13

Comparing the leading classroom observation tools, eSchool News


Comparing the leading classroom observation tools

eSchool News, December 13, 2012

From staff reports, For the Complete Story, please visit the eSchool News website


Platform: Web-based only.

How it works: The system is fully customizable; forms can include any categories with any look-fors that the user enters. Users can customize the way they collect data as well: with checkboxes, open-response questions, point scales, timers, and/or drop-down menus. Users can create as many custom forms as they’d like, at no additional cost. Once an observation has been logged, a user can upload any type of file and attach it to the observation, including audio, video, photos, and lesson plans.

Sharing: The system is intended to create opportunities for face-to-face conversations and collaboration between teachers and administrators. Observations can be eMailed to teachers, downloaded as PDFs, or exported to Excel files. All of the data are aggregated for a given teacher, specific grade level, school department, and schoolwide to identify trends over time. These trends are displayed graphically, making them easy to understand.

Customization: Observe4success’ biggest differentiator is its ease of use and customization, the company says. Its interface is simple, clean, and user-friendly, allowing any administrator to jump in and start the observation and feedback process.

Cost: $1,200 per school site for a single school. Districts get bulk discounts based on the number of schools purchasing. http://www.observe4success.com

Policy makers in states from coast to coast are demanding more rigorous teacher evaluations that lead to real improvements in instruction—and school systems are changing their practices as a result.

Central to this effort are software tools that help school leaders record their observations during classroom walkthoughs and share this information with teachers to foster their professional growth.

Many programs include free apps for conducting walkthroughs using a mobile device—though not all solutions can be used both online and offline. Other features to compare include the software’s flexibility (can it be customized to meet each school’s evaluation needs?) and what sharing and reporting capabilities it includes.

To help school leaders compare some of the leading options, we’ve assembled this handy guide.