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Granting teachers the “benefit of the doubt” in performance evaluations

Nicky Rogge (Centre for Educational Research & Development (CERD), Hogeschool‐Universiteit Brussel (HU Brussel), Brussels, Belgium, and Faculty of Business and Economics, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven), Leuven, Belgium)

International Journal of Educational Management

ISSN: 0951-354X

Article publication date: 16 August 2011




This paper proposes a benefit of the doubt (BoD) approach to construct and analyse teacher effectiveness scores (i.e. SET scores).


The BoD approach is related to data envelopment analysis (DEA), a linear programming tool for evaluating the relative efficiency performance of a set of similar units (e.g. firms, departments, individuals, etc.) who use (possibly multiple) inputs to produce (possibly multiple) outputs in operation environments typically characterised by no reliable information on the prices of inputs and/or no (exact) knowledge about the “functional form” of the production or cost function.


A major appeal of BoD is the flexibility in the construction of the SET scores. In particular, BoD puts teacher performances into a relative perspective to be evaluated optimally, thereby accounting for different values and interpretations that teachers attach to “good teaching”. Furthermore, if available, stakeholder opinion can be easily incorporated into the evaluation. The swift identification of teachers' relative strengths and weaknesses is another advantage. The advantages show in the application.


Several issues specific to the construction and analysis of SET scores have remained largely untouched, and hence unresolved, in the literature. One particular blank area is the weighting and aggregation of SETs into teacher performance scores. This paper contributes to the literature in that it presents a methodology that addresses this issue. To illustrate the usefulness of BoD for teacher evaluations with summative intentions and/or formative purposes, the methodology is applied to SET data collected at a university college in Brussels (Belgium).



Rogge, N. (2011), "Granting teachers the “benefit of the doubt” in performance evaluations", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 25 No. 6, pp. 590-614.



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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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