School Solutions                                             Page 56


Taming the Teacher Evaluation




 John Raymond

“How are we going to get all of this evaluation work done?”
—Some school principal, somewhere, right now

Building and district leaders are asking this question as they contemplate the teacher evaluation reforms sweeping statehouse after statehouse. Wisconsin, Rhode Island, Indiana, New York, Oklahoma — you name the state, it probably passed a law requiring more rigorous evaluations for K-12 teaching staff. As these laws morph into state and district policies, one thing seems clear: There’s not enough time in the day to do what’s required.

New teacher evaluations involve lots of data collection, procedures and meetings. They also include multiple observations, pre- and post-observation conferences, review and sign-off on a variety of forms, collection and assignment of evidentiary artifacts, reporting and so on. At PowerIT, an AASA School Solutions member, we conservatively estimate that principals’ workloads for teacher evaluations are about to increase threefold. Perhaps “surge” is a better word?

Anticipating this wave of work, school districts are looking for help in the form of data management systems. In Wisconsin, where evaluation reforms are rolling out, the Sun Prairie Area School District has been shopping for software to streamline evaluations.
“We are in need of a data collection tool that gets us ahead of the game and helps our principals be effective and efficient,” says Michael Mades, Sun Prairie’s supervisor of technology.

The district selected Eval3D® (www.eval3d.com), PowerIT’s web-based teacher-evaluation management system. “Eval3D works great on an iPad and lets us use whatever evaluation rubric or framework best suits our needs,” he adds.

In addition to freeing principals from the tsunami of evaluation work, Eval3D supports teacher growth and districtwide professional development. “We’re using data collected in Eval3D to focus and drive our professional development efforts across the district,” says Alicia Roy, superintendent in New Fairfield, Conn.

With Eval3D, school administrators can easily extract data for individuals and groups, such as all 5th-grade teachers, schoolwide and districtwide, enabling administrators to target professional development resources at areas of need.

A Valuable Toolbox
PowerIT has been helping schools streamline processes, including school communications, since 2001. With clients and K-12 association partners in 26 states, PowerIT has broad insight into legislation, policy and best practices and translates this into flexible, cost-effective products that meet districts’ unique needs.

With Eval3D, PowerIT has built a platform that’s designed to work effectively in any state — a well-provisioned toolbox where schools find that combination of tools they need to efficiently conduct meaningful evaluations.

The work crunch may not be the only challenge in implementing teacher evaluation reform. Determining value-added scores for those teachers who do not teach courses with standardized tests, for example, has been anything but easy. But that’s a topic for another day. Teacher evaluation reform is upon us, and implementation will be more successful with the help of well-conceived data management systems.

John Raymond is founder and president of PowerIT, based in Austin, Texas. E-mail: john@poweritschools.com


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