Teacher evaluations-and-local-flexibility


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School Improvement Network conducted study of 50 state department of education officials who are responsible for implementing teacher evaluation policy to better understand state teacher evaluation policy and how much flexibility districts have at the local level to implement state requirements. The goal was to inform ourselves, school districts and local schools how much freedom and flexibility, or lack thereof, they have to innovate on behalf of their own teachers and students particularly when it comes to using technology to achieve their professional development needs.

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Teacher evaluations-and-local-flexibility

  1. 1. Teacher evaluations and local flexibility: Burden or benefit? Research Report School Improvement Network believes that by providing November 2013 teachers with quality, differentiated training based on Sponsored by: School Improvement Network best practices from master teachers, they will be better equipped to help students master skills essential to their Researched and Authored by: preparation towards college or a meaningful career and Christina E. Culver and Kathleen T. Hayes their growth as individuals and contributors to society. CH Global Strategies, LLC With this training, teachers find increased capacity to personalize their teaching, and meet the growing needs of students, no matter their race, origin, language, or socioeconomic status. About this Report The Educator Effectiveness System (EES), School Improvement Network’s premier online, on-demand professional This independent study, conducted by CH Global Strate- development platform, offers thousands of tools and gies, was sponsored by School Improvement Network to resources that increase teacher effectiveness through better understand state teacher evaluation policy and how solving professional development needs, providing com- much flexibility districts have at the local level to imple- plete support for Common Core implementation challeng- ment state requirements. School Improvement Network’s es, and deliver powerful observation and evaluation tools. goal was to inform school districts and local schools how EES includes the following key products: much freedom and flexibility, or lack thereof, they have to innovate on behalf of their own teachers and students, PD 360 particularly when it comes to using technology to achieve their professional development needs. PD 360, the flagship product in EES, is the most widely used online professional development solution in the US School Improvement Network is the world’s largest pro- and offers the largest library of expert-produced train- vider of online, on-demand professional development and ing videos, powerful support tools and resources, and training resources for educators and partners with schools, an online professional learning community of nearly one districts, states throughout the US, Canada, and overseas to million educators. PD 360 has earned over 70 awards for increase teacher effectiveness and student achievement. professional video quality, innovation, and excellence in its technology platform. www.schoolimprovement.com | 801-572-1153 1
  2. 2. Observation 360 School Improvement Network has been recognized by many national and state organizations, including Ernst and Observation 360 is a suite of products that turns the Young, for the company’s leadership in education, innova- observation and evaluation process into a meaningful tion, and growth. educator growth experience. It offers administrators every tool they need to conduct effective observations For more information on this report, contact Christina and evaluations, create personalized professional Culver, President, CH Global Strategies, LLC, 202-538-9031. learning plans, and track results. For more information on School Improvement Network, go to www.schoolimprovement.com or call toll-free at Common Core 360 800-572-1153 to speak to a sales representative. Common Core 360, School Improvement Network’s comprehensive training on the Common Core State Standards Initiative, walks educators through every step of Common Core implementation, with standard-specific video instruction, downloadable lesson plans, crosswalking tools, a learning progressions guide, a roadmap to the standards, and more. LumiBook LumiBook is the first truly interactive, multimedia, cloudbased e-reading platform. It surpasses the static information of any other reading experience, enabling real-time author updates, collaborative conversations between readers and authors, and a rich content experience that is enhanced by all the resources available on the web. Learning 360 Framework Learning 360 Framework is the key research on teacher effectiveness aggregated into a framework for powerful student learning. It offers student-friendly learning targets that are standards based and relevant, assessment that is aligned and growth producing, and learning strategies that are rigorous and engaging. www.schoolimprovement.com | 801-572-1153 2
  3. 3. Introduction instruction is the first priority for states and districts, meeting the requirements of the ESEA Flexibility Waivers In the last few years, the majority of states have moved that the majority of states have received is currently toward overhauling their teacher evaluation systems – the driving force behind the development or revision of a monumental, often onerous endeavor. Several new teacher evaluation systems at the state and district levels. federal education policies and recent research on teacher Both states and districts have to ensure that any system evaluation have incited states to take on the task: they develop is valid and reliable, along with being legally defensible in arbitration, and most districts are challenged • A recent shift in focus from highly qualified to highly by the time and resources it takes to do this,” says Janice effective teachers Poda, strategic initiative director, education workforce, Council of Chief State School Officers. • Financial incentives such as the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and the Utilizing flexibility in developing rubrics at the local level Race to the Top (RTT) program, which encourage is important for ensuring teacher professional growth that states to create rigorous and more comprehensive leads to long term student academic achievement. In a systems for evaluating teachers corresponding survey School Improvement Network conducted with teachers nationally, teachers whose districts • use the state developed or chosen rubric expressed they offer to exempt states from some of the law’s do not believe the evaluation process in their school works strictest requirements if they developed their own effectively, and most of those educators say the chief accountability standards, including those that reason is that evaluations are neither individualized nor an focus on teacher quality honest reflection of their work. Recent evidence suggesting that an overwhelming If teacher evaluations are to be truly effective at improving majority of teacher evaluation systems were assign- teaching and student achievement, the evaluation rubrics ing most teachers the highest possible rating and need to reflect local teaching practices and provide indi- offering little to no support for teachers who need vidual feedback and professional development supports improvement • NCLB waivers, the U.S. Department of Education’s for improvement. The result: an array of new or radically modified systems, The State Teacher Evaluation Policy Scan along with a continued emphasis in most states on local control. The vast majority of states still offer local From November 2012 through February 2013, CH Global education agencies (LEAs) flexibility in developing a Strategies administered a survey by phone and email to all teacher practice evaluation rubric. At the same time, 50 states’ departments of education about their teacher as a recent policy scan sponsored by the Utah-based evaluation policies (see Appendix A for survey protocol). School Improvement Network suggests, an unintended The survey responses indicate that, except for California, consequence has emerged: a communication gap between all states are in the process of redesigning or have rede- states and local education agencies (LEAs) that has led a signed their teacher evaluation systems. significant percentage of LEAs to misunderstand the level of autonomy they have in designing their own teacher Further, the survey revealed that the majority of states – practice evaluation frameworks. Further, the emphasis 37 – offer flexibility to local education agencies for design- on compliance at both the state and local levels – often ing the rubrics they will use to evaluate teachers in their accompanied by tight timelines – is leaving many LEAs schools. Eleven states have developed and mandated a little room to ensure that locally developed teacher specific program for teacher evaluations. (See Appendix evaluation rubrics are aligned with teacher practice to A for a breakdown of states and flexibility options.) help ensure instructional improvement. “While improving www.schoolimprovement.com | 801-572-1153 3
  4. 4. School Improvement Network (SINET) followed up on the SINET’s Delaware school district liaison, as of June 2013, state teacher evaluation survey by surveying its 50 SINET only one school district in the state had considered devel- school district liaisons, who work directly with more than oping its own teacher practice evaluation rubric. 4500 LEAs across the country. Forty-three SINET school district liaisons responded. Among the survey’s findings: Similarly, SINET’s Wisconsin district liaison reported that vague policy language has led some LEAs in that state to • In the 37 states where teacher evaluation legislation believe that they must choose between Teachscape or gives districts flexibility in designing or selecting a CESA’s 6 model when, in fact, the state’s policy allows teacher-practice evaluation framework, that flexibility LEAs total flexibility in selecting an alternate rubric as long is often not clearly communicated to districts or clear- as it adheres to state teacher evaluation policy guidelines. ly understood at the district level – either because of unclear communication from the state to the local level Failure on the part of LEAs to thoroughly review or a lack of thorough LEA review of the state’s written written policy policy, or both. Specifically, Despite the lack of clarity in some states’ written teacher evaluation policies, some LEAs also may not be doing 73 percent of SINET’s school district liaisons report their homework. SINET’s Kansas district liaison reported their local education agencies are not at all or that many LEAs there have relied solely on information only vaguely aware of the flexibility they have in posted on the state DOE’s website instead of thoroughly designing alternate teacher-practice evaluation reading the state’s teacher evaluation policy. Consequently, rubrics; and o many LEAs there believe they must use one of two state-approved rubrics when, in fact, the state’s teacher o 74 percent of SINET’s school district liaisons say evaluation policy allows LEAs to develop alternate that they are somewhat likely, very likely or cer- rubrics as long as they adhere to the state’s Educator tain to be the primary source of LEAs’ information Effectiveness Guidelines. about their state’s teacher evaluation policy. Onerous alternate-rubric approval processes that often Further, the survey’s findings suggest three reasons for the demand a quick turnaround confusion: SINET’s Kansas district liaison added that LEAs that are Vague or dense policy language aware of the flexibility option more often than not still chose one of the two state-approved rubrics – either because the Some states’ written teacher evaluation policies either approval process for alternate rubrics was daunting, or the do not clearly state flexibility options or are written using LEAs lacked the capacity to develop an alternate, or both. elaborate or dense language. For example, although The liaison said that although one of the two state-approved Delaware’s teacher evaluation policy allows districts to rubrics – KEEP -- was developed and posted on the DOE’s propose alternate teacher practice evaluation rubrics, website approximately 18 months before the LEA rubric- LEAs there have indicated to SINET district liaisons that selection deadline, the second rubric (McREL) was the state policy’s language seems to mandate use of approved and posted just several months before the dead- DPASS II, the state-developed rubric. Compounding the line – leaving LEAs little time to properly review that option. confusion, LEAs said, is that all LEA support and training Consequently, concerns about compliance became the offered by Delaware’s Department of Education is aligned LEAs’ priority, and most selected KEEP or McREL. The with DPAS II, even though the policy contains a provision SINET district liaison added that many of the LEAs that that allows LEAs flexibility. Consequently, according to chose one of the two state-approved rubrics are using the state’s 2013-14 teacher evaluation pilot year to carefully review alternate rubrics and might propose alternate rubrics during the next year’s approval process window. www.schoolimprovement.com | 801-572-1153 4
  5. 5. SINET’s Wisconsin district liaison also reported a tight Implications and questions for further exploration approval process timeline for LEAs who wanted approval on an alternate rubric. LEAs there had two weeks from the Policy implementation research teaches several key les- time the equivalency process was announced to submit sons: The devil is in the details, and the success of any their alternate choices.  policy depends on the bottom-line implementers . Therefore, clear, consistent and regular communication between The Teacher Survey policymakers and policy implementers is crucial, as is local capacity. But as SINET’s research has suggested, weak These findings coincide with a 2013 SINET quantitative communication about teacher evaluation policy, along study conducted in 46 states that examined nearly 2000 with complicated state-level approval processes for locally educators’ attitudes toward current teacher evaluation developed rubrics, has clouded already-overburdened practices (see Appendix B for survey protocol). LEAs’ understanding of and, in many cases, desire to take Among the study’s findings: advantage of policy flexibility. • The SINET surveys prompt three overarching questions: Nearly half of evaluations use state-developed frameworks. 1. • Are states and districts grappling with too many 70 percent of the educators surveyed do not believe teacher effectiveness policies, thereby compromising the evaluation process in their school works effectively, their capacity to clearly and faithfully implement these and most of those educators say the chief reason is policies? that evaluations are neither individualized nor do they provide more than a snapshot of their practice, and often are too detailed. 2. Does teacher evaluation policy implementation occur too quickly to allow both local compliance and alignment to local practice? • 67 percent believe their evaluations do not provide a fair and honest reflection of their work. 3. Given the large number of states with local control over teacher evaluation, can quality and effectiveness • 46 percent of those surveyed say that their evaluations of teacher evaluation systems be guaranteed? are not accompanied by professional development or Specifically, other support that is aligned with the evaluation criteria. • Are school leaders and teachers part of the policy- This data suggests that despite the recent push for new making process so that these bottom-line imple- teacher evaluations to be more thoughtfully aligned to menters’ views on effective evaluation are incorpo- individual teachers’ practice, both states and LEAs have rated into the policies? work to do before evaluations truly reflect teacher practice. Further, data from the SINET state teacher evaluation • How are evaluation policies unfolding at the policy scan suggests that technicalities – chiefly, state-level principal level? What support are states and LEAs processes for approving alternate frameworks that often are offering their principals so they can effectively cumbersome, time-consuming or both – are hindering LEAs’ implement new evaluation systems? desire and capacity to craft teacher practice rubrics that are closely aligned with teacher practice. The result: LEAs are • Similarly, how are evaluation policies unfolding at likely to stick with the state-developed or state-supported the teacher level? What, if any, professional de- teacher practice evaluation rubric instead of expending velopment guidelines are states calling for in their time and other resources to develop a rubric that’s more evaluation policies? If such guidelines are absent locally appropriate and meets compliance criteria. at the state level, what professional development www.schoolimprovement.com | 801-572-1153 5
  6. 6. are local education agencies offering to teachers to support their learning about new evaluation systems and tools? • How are local education agencies building teacher capacity – especially for educators in low-performing schools – around mastery of instructional practices that will help them not only earn a successful evaluation rating but, more importantly, help them increase their effectiveness so that they can move students toward higher levels of achievement? Recommendations In light of these findings, we recommend the following actions to teacher evaluation policymakers: • State departments of education should provide clear, direct and continuous communication about teacher evaluation policy (especially regarding policy components that might otherwise be complex or seem ambiguous) to LEAs. • State departments of education should allot more time for local implementation and offer more assistance in building LEA capacity to help ensure that LEAs develop teacher practice evaluation rubrics that are both compliant and effective. • LEAs should exercise their leadership role by carefully considering local educator needs when it comes to evaluation and building capacity that allows for better feedback. • LEAs should provide thoughtful, judicious review of and feedback to the state about their teacher evaluation policy. • Both states and LEAs should develop policies that include thoughtfully crafted professional development components so that principals and teachers are supported in their work and thereby can provide highly effective school experiences for all students. www.schoolimprovement.com | 801-572-1153 6
  7. 7. Appendix A: Teacher Evaluation Flexibility by State States whose policies offer LEAs flexibility regarding type of teacher practice evaluation instrument States with mandated instrument(s) Alabama DC Alaska Georgia Arizona Hawaii Arkansas Idaho California** Mississippi Colorado Nebraska Connecticut New Mexico Delaware* North Carolina Florida Oklahoma Illinois* Washington Indiana West Virginia Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland Massachusetts* Michigan Minnesota* Missouri Montana New Hampshire New Jersey* New York* Nevada North Dakota Ohio* Oregon Pennsylvania* Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Utah Vermont Virginia *collective bargaining state ** As of May 2013, proposed legislative changes to teacher evaluation in California failed to advance in the state senate; California LEAs currently can use any teacher practice evaluation instrument. SINET’s state teacher evaluation system policy scan revealed that Iowa’s state legislature in Spring 2013 approved new teacher evaluation guidelines, but as of Fall 2013, the newly created Council on Educator Development is only in very nascent stages of Wisconsin developing a new teacher evaluation system; therefore, Wyoming Iowa is not included in the chart. www.schoolimprovement.com | 801-572-1153 7
  8. 8. Appendix B: SINET State Teacher Evaluation Policy Scan Protocol Appendix C: SINET Teacher Survey Protocol: Evaluation and Observations 1. 1. Does your state have an approved teacher evaluation Are you formally evaluated in your work? system? a. If yes, does this include walkthrough observations? 2. Does the system include an approved teacher-practice If so, how often? evaluation rubric/framework? b. If yes, does this include informal observations? If 3. If yes, is that rubric/framework mandated? 4. If no, what flexibility do LEAs have for adapting that rubric/framework or using an alternate? so, how often? 2. When you are observed, does the process include the following (check all that apply): Pre-observation conference; post-observation conference; suggestions 5. If there is flexibility, what is the state-level process for LEAs (e.g., a link on the state’s DOE website? Contact for professional development; support for growth in teaching effectiveness? an individual at the DOE?) to propose an alternate or adapted rubric/framework? 3. Is professional development part of the observation process? If yes, is/does the professional 6. Does the state’s policy require third-party (e.g., union) development buy-in at the local level? If yes, what is the process? • personalized to your needs as identified in the observation? • provided in whole-group workshops and other traditional means? • provided through digital means, such as online or on-demand PD? • include modeling of best practices, such as 7. What is the timeline for implementation of your new or modified teacher evaluation system? through videos? 4. Is the evaluation based on a state-/district-/system-mandated framework? If so, what framework is used? o Marzano o Danielson o State-developed o Other 5. Has the framework been adequately explained to you? www.schoolimprovement.com | 801-572-1153 8
  9. 9. 6. Does it clearly inform your work as a teacher? 11. Rate how much the following evaluation practices would help improve the evaluation process for you: 7. Is the framework intuitive and reflective of what you do daily as a teacher? 8. Regarding the framework used to evaluate your practice, indicate which framework it is (e.g., Danielson, o The ability to identify specific practices you want to be observed o The opportunity to submit evidence and artifacts that show your proficiency in certain domains o The chance to receive professional development that is directly derived from your evaluations o An evaluation process that occasionally substitutes peer observations in place of administrator observations o The opportunity to explain and/or justify student data if student achievement data is included in the evaluation state-developed) and whether it works for you or does not work for you. 9. If you indicated “does not work for me,” indicate from the following list the reason(s) why: o Not individualized o Snap-shot o Evaluator o Too many details o Not focused on teacher’s efforts 12. Do you believe the evaluation process benefits you as a professional educator? o Pointless/impractical o Vague criteria o Not informed o Lack of post-evaluation benefits 13. Do you believe the evaluation process works effectively? 14. Do you believe the evaluation process is fair and honestly reflects on you as an educator? 15. Is the evaluation process focused on your growth and effectiveness as an educator? o Unrealistic 16. Do you like being evaluated? o Time o Other o Figuring out new system 10. Does the evaluation process incorporate student achievement data? a. If yes, is this a fair practice? 17. What would you suggest could be done to improve the evaluation process? 18. Do you feel that the evaluators are well-trained, qualified and objective? 19. Do you feel that the evaluators should be formally trained and certified? b. From where is the data derived (state standardized tests; baseline leveling assessments; ongoing formative assessments; student evidence and artifacts of learning)? What does the data reflect (student growth over time, student grade-level proficiency, or both)? www.schoolimprovement.com | 801-572-1153 9
  10. 10. i The New Teacher Project. (2009). The Widget Effect: Our National Failure to Acknowledge and Act on Differences in Teacher Effectiveness. Interview with Janice Poda, strategic initiative director, ii education workforce, Council of Chief State School Officers, September 26, 2013. SINET’s state teacher evaluation system policy scan iii revealed that Iowa’s state legislature in Spring 2013 approved new teacher evaluation guidelines, but as of Fall 2013, the newly created Council on Educator Development is only in very nascent stages of developing a new teacher evaluation system; therefore Iowa is not included in the charts in Appendix A; the policy scan also found that as of May 2013, proposed legislative changes to teacher evaluation in California failed to advance in the state senate; LEAs there currently can use any teacher practice evaluation instrument. Lipsky, M. (1980). Street-level bureaucracy: Dilemmas of iv the individual in public services. Russell Sage Foundation; Pressman, J.L., & Wildavsky, A. (1973). Implementation. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. www.schoolimprovement.com | 801-572-1153 10