About the MET Project

Wednesday, February 4, 2015 at 12:00am


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Real improvement requires quality measurement. To achieve greater success with their students, teachers need high-quality feedback based on an accurate assessment of their instruction as measured against clear standards for what is known to be effective. To support the goal of college and career readiness for all students, school administrators need to make personnel decisions informed by trustworthy information on effective teaching.And to assess the return on professional development investments, school system leaders need good data on the state of teaching practice across classrooms.

To address these needs, the MET project worked with scores of researchers and organizations, and with some 3,000 teacher volunteers in six urban districts, to collect and analyze a host of data from the classrooms of roughly 100,000 students. The resulting research reports, practitioner publications, and new tools have informed policy and practice at every level.

This page includes background on MET project research questions, study components, partners, and the publication of findings.

Note: Content on this page adapted from “Why Measure Effective Teaching” in the book Designing Teacher Evaluation Systems: New Guidance from the Measures of Effective Teaching Project, published by Jossey-Bass.


Teaching is a complex interaction among teachers, students, and content that no single instrument can capture. Ensuring quality amid such complexity poses a major challenge to the design and implementation of tools for feedback and evaluation. Teachers, principals, and other evaluators need trustworthy information to produce actionable improvement plans and to make credible assessments of teaching practice.

With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the MET project was launched as a research partnership of teachers, school districts, and education organizations committed to investigating new and better ways to identify and develop effective teaching.

Between 2009 and 2012, the MET project worked with practitioners to collect and analyze data using a wide array of measures. Through their work with the project, partners created new instruments, adapted existing ones for large scale use, and develop new technologies and evaluator training systems.

Three overarching questions posed by practitioners determined the study design:

  • How reliable are the measures?
  • What does it take to implement them well?
  • What is their informational value?


The MET project collected data on multiple measures of effective teaching:

Student achievement gains on state standardized tests and supplemental tests.

While state tests are designed to measure how well students have learned the state standards, supplemental tests tend to measure more reasoning skills and conceptual understanding. The MET project included both in its analysis. The supplemental assessments administered to students in the classrooms of MET project teachers were:

The ACT QualityCore series for Algebra I, English 9 and Biology, which measures the learning outcomes all students need to attain in order to succeed in college through real-world problems designed to require practical
applications of concepts, theories, principles and processes.

The Balanced Assessment in Mathematics (BAM) in grades 4 through 8, which measures higher order reasoning skills using question formats that are quite different from those in the state mathematics achievement tests. BAM assesses understanding of core ideas that are tied to grade level standards.

The Stanford 9 Open Ended Reading Assessment in grades 4 through 8, which tests higher order English language skills by asking students not only to answer each question, but also to explain the thinking behind each answer.

Classroom observations and teacher reflections.

To see how well different classroom observation tools identify effective teaching, MET project researchers videotaped lessons in each participating teacher's classroom. This resulted in over 20,000 videotaped lessons to help inform the project's findings. Teachers provided notes and supporting materials to give context about each lesson. The videos were reviewed and scored by trained experts using several nationally-recognized observation tools.

The classroom observation tools studied by the MET project are:

Student perceptions of the classroom instructional environment.

Students in participating teachers' classrooms completed surveys about their experience in the classroom and their teachers' ability to engage them in the course material. For more information about the MET-Tripod student feedback survey used in the study, see the Tools for Professional Learning and Evaluation page.


Partner districts:

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, the Dallas Independent Schools, the Denver Public Schools, the Hillsborough County (Fla.) Public Schools, the Memphis Public Schools, and the New York City Schools.

Lead research and organizational partners have included:

Partners includes representatives of the following institutions and organizations: American Institutes for Research, Cambridge Education, University of Chicago, The Danielson Group, Dartmouth University, Educational Testing Service, Empirical Education, Harvard University, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, National Math and Science Initiative, New Teacher Center, University of Michigan, RAND, Rutgers University, University of Southern California, Stanford University, Teachscape, University of Texas, University of Virginia, University of Washington, and Westat.


Compared with typical large-scale research, the MET project moved fast. Analysts released findings on a rolling basis after each major phase of data collection. The pace was driven by the needs of states and districts looking for evidence-based guidance to inform new feedback and evaluation systems.

The MET project released a series of reports between 2010 and 2013. These contributed several key understandings about measuring effective teaching. Among them:

  • A well-designed student perception survey can provide reliable feedback on aspects of teaching practice that are predictive of student learning
  • Accurate observation ratings require two or more observations by trained and certified observers
  • A combination of well-administered measures can identify teachers whose practice causes student to learn more
  • A generally balanced set of different measures produces more stable results and a better indication of student learning on a range of assessments than one that gives a preponderance of weight to a single measure

For more on the practical implications of MET project research for feedback and evaluation systems see the Reports & Guidance for Policy & Practice page.

For more on how educators can benefit from MET project tools for feedback and professional growth, see the Tools for Professional Learning and Evaluation page.

For technical background on MET project analysis, and information for researchers wanting to use MET data, see the Analysis & Resources for Researchers page.


Building Trust in Observations: A Blueprint for Improving Systems; Practice Guide on Pre-Scoring Video

Feedback for Better Teaching: Nine Principles for Using Measures of Effective Teaching