Friday, July 9, 2010

A Busy Week at KDE

This week, the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) saw much work on several key issues. The Teacher Effectiveness Steering Committee, Principal Effectiveness Steering Committee and the Teacher/Principal Working Conditions Survey Committee met to work on proposals to revise teacher and principal evaluation systems in Kentucky.

Why are we working on changes to the evaluation process? In my travels throughout the state, I hear from superintendents, principals and teachers that the current system of evaluation in Kentucky may not be as strong as we need, given the research on the impact of teachers and principals on student learning. Also, the Race to the Top application, Title I reauthorization, federal grants and foundation grants are all focusing on effective teachers and principals. Readers should note that the vocabulary is changing from “highly qualified” to “effective.” Much of the research over the past 10 years has clearly shown the strong correlation between effective teachers and principals and improving student learning results.

What is the timeline for the revisions? Our committees are working slowly to go fast later. In the 2009-10 school year, we had four districts that worked to develop a process for teacher effectiveness. This work was funded through our grant from the Wallace Foundation. Also, based on Wallace Foundation work, Kentucky has been one of the lead states in the nation for the development of principal effectiveness measures. We have 23 districts that have volunteered to help the steering committees this year through field tests of various items from the proposed system of measuring effectiveness.

What are the components of teacher effectiveness? The research around this is mixed; however, there does seem to be agreement that a strong teacher effectiveness system must have multiple measures. In Kentucky, we are looking at student growth, teacher self-assessment, observations, 360-degree assessment, artifacts/evidences and student voice. For principals, there will be similar measures.

The other exciting work this week was the advisory committee for the teacher and principal working conditions survey. More details about this survey will be forthcoming over the next few months. Should readers be interested in learning more about the survey, they may view the work in Maryland at http://www.tellmaryland.org/. Kentucky and Tennessee recently became the 11th and 12th states in the nation, along with several large urban school districts, to use this survey.

The staff at KDE very much appreciates all the teachers, principals, superintendents, college faculty, parents, business leaders and organization leaders who have volunteered their time to work on these very important committees. Readers also may be interested in the presentation I will be making to the Interim Joint Committee on Education at its July 12 meeting in Frankfort. That presentation will be posted on the KDE website at http://www.education.ky.gov/KDE/Administrative+Resources/Commissioner+of+Education/Commissioner+Hollidays+Presentations/.

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