As school corporations transitioned into systems of yearly evaluations, they often adopted and implemented teacher evaluation plans quickly in order to be compliant. The positive impact? Educators are now talking about instructional practices in a much more intentional and detailed way. However, there’s a gaping hole that is becoming larger every year. We’re collecting data, but then what?
Unfortunately, many schools collect the data, submit scores to the state and then…stop. There’s a failure to act—most certainly due to time constraints and lack of knowledge of where to go next. For example, in reference to teacher evaluation data, one school superintendent actually said “I don’t care about all the analytics, I just want to be compliant.” While we would hope this is not the norm, it is more common than you may think.
For many schools, the task of collecting, curating, evaluating, and reporting the teacher evaluation data is overwhelming. After this, there exists an expectation for an administrator to use this data to drive professional development and programming. Added to the multitudes of other tasks required by administrators, it is easy to see why this analysis and planning often gets pushed to the back burner.
Research to Support Data
So why are we suggesting that schools take a closer look at their data? A study conducted by SFS looked at teacher evaluation data over a 3 year period for 60 school districts of various sizes and demographics. This represented about 16% of the teachers in Indiana. Some of the findings were that at some time, teachers were rated less than effective in the following areas:
- 14% in maximizing instructional time
- 13% in student engagement
- 11% in developing student understanding
- 27% of these teachers studied received an Improvement Necessary overall rating for their rubric component of the summative score
Giving this honest feedback throughout the year does not mean that the teacher was less than effective overall.
Call to Action
Do you, as a school board member or administrator, know the areas in which your teachers are doing well based on teacher evaluation data? More importantly, do you know the standards for which they are most frequently marked less than proficient on their teacher evaluations? Every administrator should be aware of these, and build professional development decisions and school improvement goals around giving support in areas that are identified as a need.
If you look at your evaluation data over a semester or year and you see very few marks less than proficient, you need to have a hard discussion with administrators about giving feedback. If it is strictly a compliance exercise and everyone is effective in every indicator on each evaluation, then we are doing a disservice to the teachers and students. We are not giving “true” feedback to drive professional growth. Whatever system schools are using, if you are only collecting and reporting data to be compliant with state requirements, then you are under-utilizing your investment in software and human capital.
Focus on Improvement
This data collection and analysis can not only drive professional growth for classroom teachers, but for those giving feedback. This can be a growth exercise for them as well in getting better at giving feedback and being the instructional leader in the building.
As a profession, we need to move from data to development. The data should drive individual growth plans for teachers, buildings, and districts, and utilized for on-boarding programs, mentoring, and best practice programs to spur engagement and retention.
Currently, we are facing a teacher shortage. We must develop and retain teachers by giving them support to get better, and identify early challenges that beginning teachers are facing and give them targeted professional development opportunities to be successful. Administrators must develop less than effective teachers and support their growth locally, as there may not be a replacement available. This is no longer a dismissal process – this is a growth process. It is costly to replace teachers regardless if you are in an urban, rural, or suburban area.
Teacher Evaluation Management Systems
If you are using a teacher evaluation management system, you must use the system to drive growth for all employees. An individual professional growth plan should be a working document. This plan serves as a road map to help guide, track and review professional progress. Taking a thoughtful approach to professional growth provides benefits not only to the educator, but even more importantly, to the children they encounter each day.
Furthermore, a tool like Standard For Success not only manages the teacher evaluation process, but engages both administrators and teachers in the process of developing plans for professional growth as they pursue goals associated with quality improvement initiatives, observed areas of strength and weakness, and teacher effectiveness initiatives.
A well-planted seed bears fruit. That’s why it’s important, in fact critical, that we move beyond compliance and use the data to help our teachers grow and improve.