On Red Sox Opening Day, we look to baseball for guidance. In calling balls and strikes, umpires address calibration challenges similar to those facing school principals charged with evaluating teachers. To gain greater inter-rater reliability, umpires’ performances are compared to camera-based compu-scores, while school evaluators collaboratively score video clips of teachers in action.
This New York Times article analyzes patterns in umpires’ strike- and ball-calling errors: “Baseball insiders have long suspected what our research confirms: that umpires tend to make errors in ways that favor players who have established themselves at the top of the game’s status hierarchy. But our findings are also suggestive of the way that people in any sort of evaluative role — not just umpires — are unconsciously biased by simple “status characteristics.” Even constant monitoring and incentives can fail to train such biases out of us.”
If we apply this theory to teacher evaluation, are school evaluators more likely to give favorable ratings to teachers with greater status in the building?