Friday, June 17, 2011

Teacher Evaluation for Growth

It was an exciting week for education in Kentucky. We started the week with a presentation to the Interim Joint Committee on Education. The major focus of the presentation was the work of the Teacher Effectiveness Steering Committee.

I asked this group to develop a teacher effectiveness model that would promote teacher growth, increases in student learning and a holistic approach to defining effective teaching. I met with the committee this morning to discuss the implications and challenges to their work thus far.

One document that the committee utilized to frame our discussion this morning was the National Education Association (NEA) position paper on teacher assessment and evaluation. This document provides several excellent points.

* Current systems of assessing, evaluating and supporting teachers too often fail to improve teacher practice and enhance student growth and learning.

* Current policy discourse about teacher evaluation is mired in a rewards-and punishment framework that aims to measure effectiveness of each teacher, categorize and rank teachers, reward those at the top and fire those at the bottom

* The core purpose of teacher assessment and evaluation should be to strengthen the knowledge, skills, dispositions and classroom practices of professional educators.

These guiding principles were very closely aligned with my original charge to the teacher effectiveness steering committee. I asked that group to develop a growth system that would promote the growth of teachers so they could enhance student growth and learning. Bottom line – I asked them to create conditions for a learning system for all (administrators, teachers and students) rather than a teaching system that focused on checklists and little feedback for growth.

The next steps are to recruit 50 of the 174 school districts to pilot the multiple measures that the teacher effectiveness system might include. These measures include such things as observations, self-assessment, professional development/growth plan, student voice, parent voice, peer feedback and, certainly, student growth. The 2011-12 school year 2011-12 will be a pilot year to gain confidence in the content and face validity of the multiple measures. In 2012-13, we will do a statewide pilot/validation of the system and, hopefully, be ready to implement the system in 2013-14.

We hope to include teacher and principal effectiveness as a measure in the state accountability model. At this time, we are not certain if legislation will be required. It has been our hope from the beginning that we would work collaboratively to build a model of teacher effectiveness that all districts, principals and teachers would want to support and implement. Only time will tell if we are successful in this effort.

Effective teachers and leaders are the most important parts of helping all children succeed. Our children’s future is at stake.

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