Evaluate, Develop, and Support ~
Ensuring Quality Instruction in Every Classroom
DEVELOPING TEACHER EVALUATION AND SUPPORT
Great teachers and strong leadership are foundational to every student's academic success, and we must evaluate in order to develop, nurture and support a quality classroom experience for every student, every year. In 2011, MPS began piloting parts of our teacher evaluation system still under development. In 2012, we began a district wide pilot of student surveys and observations with the intention of collecting feedback in order to tweak and improve the process. In 2013, jumping ahead of the state requirement to perform teacher and principal evaluations, we rolled out our complete teacher evaluation system. In its first year of implementation, there was a shared understanding between MPS and MFT that evaluations were intended to target professional development, improve instructional practice, and that we would collect feedback on the process itself and make necessary changes this school year. I am proud that we are leading this work in MN and fully support teacher and principal evaluations. Because we must know that every classroom has effective instruction, it is critical that we get it right.
In our second year of execution, our teacher evaluation system is still a work in progress. It is irresponsible for anyone in MPS to state that one year's worth of teacher evaluation data is "hard evidence." I would argue that the 2013 teacher evaluation doesn't even provide good baseline data because we are still addressing issues like whether or not observations were done consistently across the district. For example, two observers rating the same teacher had wide ranging scores. The district needs to improve the student survey questions to accurately evaluate teachers as well. For instance, one of the elementary questions asked the students, “Does your teacher push you?” Most students answered no because young kids relate to physical pushing, not pushing them forward academically. We must ask the right questions to know more about what is happening in our classrooms.
One of our measurements of student performance uses value-added. Value-added Method (VAM) is used to tie teacher effectiveness to student improvement on standardized tests. A study ordered by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan by the American Statistical Association actually denounced the VAM used in teacher evaluations. The statistician’s recommendation from the report is that “VAMS are generally based on standardized test scores and do not directly measure potential teacher contributions toward other student outcomes. [Also] VAMS typically measure correlation, not causation: Effects - positive or negative- attributed to a teacher may actually be caused by other factors that are not captured in the model.” In short, it doesn’t accurately measure students learning with the effectiveness of their teacher.
We need to collect data to inform our decisions, but it has to be accurate and relevant data. I will continue to hold the district accountable to fully implement our multifaceted evaluation systems. Currently we are in the process of improvement so our work supports effective instruction to equitably serve all children. Every student deserves a great teacher in every classroom every year, and the district’s role is to provide the professional development and support that cultivates every teacher's success.
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