Friday, January 6, 2012

Teacher and Principal Effectiveness

A key requirement for states requesting a waiver for the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act and for states receiving Race to the Top (RTTT) funds is the adoption, development and implementation of teacher/principal evaluation and support systems that improve the effectiveness of instruction.

Kentucky has been methodical in our development of the evaluation and support systems. Through the excellent work of the Teacher and Principal Effectiveness Steering Committees, we are very close to the field test of the multiple measures of the system and very close to the deployment of the support system (the Continuous Instructional Improvement Technology System, or CIITS).

I find it ironic that many states who received the first and second rounds of RTTT funding are struggling with development and implementation of the teacher/principal evaluation and support systems -- just this week I read of the struggles in New York ($700 million from RTTT), Tennessee ($501 million from RTTT) and Hawaii ($74.9 million from RTTT) -- while Kentucky has moved ahead with little to no funds available for the work. This is a remarkable testament to the dedication and collaboration between teachers, principals, parents, administrators and Kentucky Department of Education staff in focusing on students.

As we begin the field test of the teacher/principal evaluation system in February and roll out the formative assessment and professional development components of the CIITS system in coming weeks, I thought I would highlight the specifics of the NCLB waiver requirements with regard to teacher evaluation systems.

Highlights from ESEA Flexibility document from U.S. Department of Education, 9/23/2011

Principle 3: Supporting Effective Instruction and Leadership – page 5

To receive this flexibility, an SEA and each LEA must commit to develop, adopt, pilot, and implement, with the involvement of teachers and principals, teacher and principal evaluation and support systems that: (1) will be used for continual improvement of instruction; (2) meaningfully differentiate performance using at least three performance levels; (3) use multiple valid measures in determining performance levels, including as a significant factor data on student growth for all students (including English Learners and students with disabilities), and other measures of professional practice (which may be gathered through multiple formats and sources, such as observations based on rigorous teacher performance standards, teacher portfolios, and student and parent surveys); (4) evaluate teachers and principals on a regular basis; (5) provide clear, timely, and useful feedback, including feedback that identifies needs and guides professional development; and (6) will be used to inform personnel decisions.

Student growth is defined on page 9 of the same document – the change in achievement for an individual student between two or more points in time. For the purpose of this definition, student achievement means grades and subjects required under ESEA section 1111(b)(3). State assessments of reading and math meet this requirement. Also, a local education agency (LEA) may use other measures of student learning such as pre-tests, end-of-course exams, performance-based assessments, student learning objectives, performance on English-language learner assessments and other measures of student achievement that are rigorous and comparable across schools within an LEA.

The waiver requires the Kentucky Board of Education to adopt the guidelines for the evaluation system by June 2012. The full system must be in place by the 2014-15 school year. Our delivery plan currently has the field test in spring 2012, full state pilot in 2012-13 and statewide implementation in 2013-14. Districts will always have the option pursuant to KRS 156.557 to develop local evaluation systems that meet state education agency guidelines.

I want to personally thank the members of our Teacher and Principal Effectiveness Steering Committees for their hard work and dedication to students and professional growth of all certified staff in Kentucky.

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