As an educator for over 20 years, I’ve seen a few changes in the teacher evaluation process. I think that many of my colleagues would agree that while the positive reinforcement of a summary of a job well done was pleasant, true constructive feedback was limited. In the 1990’s and early 2000’s, evaluations were only truly utilized and monitored for teacher dismissal.
In 2011, the proposal of the RISE rubric in order to support legislation on teacher evaluation brought about much discussion (formal and informal) among educators. Indiana Code 20-28-11.5-9 “requires each charter school, including virtual charters, and school corporation to provide the disaggregated results of staff performance evaluations by teacher identification numbers to the DOE.”
While many districts have redesigned their previous policies and contract language to align with this, some are still struggling with the best way to manage this new mandate.
Although rubrics and methodologies differ, a strong personnel evaluation plan should include these five elements for successful teacher evaluation plans:
Training of evaluators and teachers in understanding the evaluation process is key. When analyzing the evaluation of teachers, there is definitely an ethical side to consider. Is the goal of the administration dismissal, or improvement of the individual? Certainly in the beginning stages, one can assume that when considering the high cost of employee turnover, improvement of performance would be preferable.
2. Multiple observations.
Requiring multiple observations by various administrative staff increases inter-rater reliability, or consistency among evaluators. It is ultimately the responsibility of the superintendent to analyze and track this data to ensure that observations are being completed with fidelity. If this is not the case, then additional administrative training may be required. Assurance of inter-rater reliability decreases biases and increases ethical practice in the evaluation process. Assigning a numerical value to teacher effectiveness based upon a pre-determined rubric should serve to decrease bias in the process.
3. Meaningful feedback.
A strong personnel plan should include meaningful feedback, which may be a task in which administrators have limited training. In a recent lecture at the NeuroLeadership Summit in Boston, Kevin Ochsner of Columbia University stated that people only apply the feedback they receive about 30% of the time. This is problematic when administrators and external evaluators spend 45-50 minutes observing a classroom, then hours afterward mapping their scripting to evaluation indicators. In addition, lesson plans and teacher leadership documentation must be analyzed and integrated as well. Pre and post conferences must also take place for effective feedback to exist. To spend hours on documentation, preparation, and professional conversation that may only have a 30% return on employee improvement is a concern to those analyzing effective human resource strategies. As teacher evaluators, we must strive to maximize the effectiveness of evaluation comments.
4. Growth plans or professional development plans.
These two are listed together, because a strong evaluation plan should drive professional growth of all employees in the school district, not just those in need of improvement. It is considered best practice, under Public Law 90, to provide all teachers with professional development and growth.). In addition, analysis of teacher evaluation data should drive school-wide and district-wide professional development opportunities.
Crucial to the process of teacher evaluation is documentation. Regardless of the school district or organization’s individual steps that have been established for employee evaluation, all correspondence and steps in the process will require thorough documentation. This is also outlined in Indiana Public Law 90, as the evaluation process must be tied to data. This data will be stored in an evaluation system or employee file and will be available for review by all parties. This data will also serve as the driving force for professional development and individual growth plans.
Based on my experience as an educator, these five elements are critical to the success of effective teacher evaluations. What else would you add?
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