“The method by which we evaluate teachers is going to change.” — Former AASA President Randy Collins
The days of “drive-bys” are over. I’m not talking about reports on crime statistics. These drive-bys are the 10-minute class observations that are often the meat of K-12 teacher evaluations.
What’s coming in their place? In general, teacher evaluation protocols that will be far more rigorous. They’ll be differentiated, reflect multiple sources of data and, ideally, support each teacher’s development. I call these the three D’s of evaluation — differentiation, data, development. In the end, these new systems will provide a far clearer picture of a teacher’s effectiveness.
This sea change is due largely to provisions in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which through its Race to the Top grants provides monies to states that embrace a process that makes teachers accountable for learning outcomes and overall performance. In turn, the act has created some interesting bedfellows at the national, state and local levels, all pulling for, or at least tolerating, this development.
Whatever one’s politics, it’s clear that the new evaluation protocols could improve teaching at both the individual and aggregate levels. Common-sense components include a process of self-evaluation, goal setting, mentoring, regular conferences between evaluator and evaluatee and, importantly, tying evaluative feedback to professional development suggestions and opportunities.
As with most major changes, there’s at least one major potential stumbling block. Here, the devil is in the implementation. According to the New Teacher Project, a leading organization in the field of teacher excellence, “the implementation of observation criteria and tools ultimately matters more than their design.”
Meetings, self-studying, observing, reporting, collating (of data), reviewing and scoring add up to a significant amount of time and effort on the part of teachers but especially on the part of principals, who likely will be responsible for much of this work. In Rhode Island, the draft Model Educator Evaluation System says teachers “should be observed at least six times” over the course of a school year.
For a principal used to conducting one 10-minute drive-by observation every year or so, this additional workload may prove burdensome, especially at a time when budget cuts are forcing reductions in administrative staff. There’s a narrow bottleneck here, and one that will require a fix.
So while there’s no way to automate the meetings between principal and teacher or to computerize the annual formal observation, there is a clear solution: A well-designed data system is needed to minimize the administrative overhead of this new evaluation protocol.
PowerIT’s Eval3D™ teacher evaluation management platform is designed in large part with this bottleneck in mind. In its web-based environment, it provides an integrated tool set for teachers and school and district administrators to perform, track and manage the more rigorous evaluations. It incorporates these efficiencies while being built upon sound principles of teacher support and development.
Among other things, Eval3D™:
Emphasizes teachers’ professional growth by linking specific identified weaknesses to relevant professional development activities;
Alerts all parties when scheduled events, such as observations or conferences, are coming up;
Streamlines administration by removing paper from the evaluation process;
Frees evaluators to work on their preferred device, including phones and tablets;
Provides a multidimensional image of a teacher’s effectiveness; and
Includes reporting tools for viewing evaluation results by school, by subject taught and by other data points.
In 2011-12, these evaluation protocols will make their way from the policy level in state departments of education and legislatures to the district level, where implementation will be the focus. In addition to extensive evaluator training, a powerful, well-designed data management system will be necessary to ensure the success of this new mandate for public schools.
John Raymond is founder and president of PowerIT in Oakville, Conn. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
AASA School Solutions Partners
Twelve firms make up the AASA School Solutions Center. NJPA is a premier partner.
NATIONAL JOINT POWERS ALLIANCE,® municipal contracting with vendors
ECRA GROUP, research, analytics and accountability solutions
HMS, dependent health-care eligibility audits
HOPE FOUNDATION, professional development for leadership teams
K12 INSIGHT, survey tool
MEDEXPERT, medical issues management services
NATIONAL STUDENT CLEARINGHOUSE, affordable student outcome reporting
ORGANIZATIONAL HEALTH, organizational audits of human capital
PFM-FINANCIAL SERVICES, procurement card program for schools
POWERIT, cost-saving web technology solutions
PROPELLSHOPS, no-cost operation for school fundraising
TUTOR.COM, online tutoring