SchoolCIO: Judgment Day 7/29/2013 By: Ellen Ullman
Time and again, research shows us that the single most important factor in improving a child’s education is the quality of his or her teacher. We all want our teachers to be as strong as they can be, which is where educator evaluation packages come in.
Room for Improvement
If your teachers need to beef up their skills, there are hundreds of PD offerings ranging from online chat sessions and courses to professional learning communities. Here are some to get your district started.
Carla Halloway, Director of teacher & leader effectiveness
Memphis (TN) City Schools*
*This information is for Memphis City Schools and is about the district before it merged with Shelby County School District in July 2013.
What product(s) do you use to evaluate your teachers?
The district developed a Teacher Effectiveness Measure that consists of five weighted components, with classroom observation accounting for 40 percent of the evaluation. The district used Insight Education Group (www.insighteducationgroup.com) to help develop the observation instrument, which is loaded into a RANDA system.
Is evaluating for the Common Core a part of this evaluation tool?
“We had the Common Core shift added to the observation rubric for the 2012-13 school year,” says Holloway. “Insight helped us incorporate the Common Core within the indicators and descriptors.”
What training did you receive on how to interpret the data?
Insight provided training for the district’s observers on evidence gathering and rating teachers via a “train-the- trainer” model. Each school trained a team of four or five administrators and teacher leaders over the summer and then they shared their expertise with their colleagues before the evaluation period began.
What do you like about this evaluation tool?
“Our observation rubric contains indicators of effective instructional practice, and the descriptors are very behavioral,” says Holloway. “Everything is so explicit, a third grader could say, ‘This is what my teacher is supposed to be doing and what I am supposed to be doing.’ For learning to occur, both teachers and students must be active in the learning. I love that our instrument brings that to life.”
What features would you like to see added?
Holloway would like to see the Plan and Reflect/Adjust domains become a part of the observation process. “It all goes together—planning, cultivating, teaching, and reflecting/adjusting. If the teacher does not plan lessons that are aligned with the Common Core, she cannot effectively execute the lessons. I’d like to see planning observed during the year so teachers can be rated on how well they plan. That’ll take us a long way.”
What PD do you offer to support teachers after their evaluations to help them strengthen any areas of weakness ?
After the first observation of the year, every teacher— regardless of performance level—develops a professional growth plan with her principal that identifies PD opportunities for the teacher to do before the next observation. These include observing a colleague, working with a coach, watching videos, etc. Holloway says they have many opportunities to reflect on their practice.
Any tips on making this evaluation process less stressful for your teachers?
“Be as transparent as you can. Offer as much training as possible and involve the teachers—not only in developing the rubric—by asking what they need. Our teachers see ratings for all components of the evaluation as they are populated in the electronic system. Nothing is hidden from them; they know where they stand and where they need to improve.”
For the full story by Ellen Ullman, please visit Tech & Learning online here.