Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The New Massachusetts Framework for Educator Evaluation - What are the goals?

In my last post, I asked the following questions about our states new evaluation system:  
Will all of this work being done by schools across the state to change the way we do teacher evaluation result in more engaging learning environments that prepare our students for the ever-evolving job market in the "real" world? Is that even the goal of this whole undertaking?
So here is what the state Board of Education stated as its objectives when it voted to adopt a new model for teacher evaluation:
  • Promote growth and development amongst leaders and teachers,
  • Place student learning at the center, using multiple measures of student learning, growth, and achievement,
  • Recognize excellence in teaching and leading,
  • Set a high bar for professional teaching status, and
  • Shorten timelines for improvement.
A member of the Massachusetts Task Force on the Evaluation of Teachers and Administrators also stated the following:
"More than anything, evaluation systems should be recognizing, developing, and promoting the most talented and successful educators. We need an approach to evaluation that is all about celebrating excellence, and ensuring that those who excel also thrive in their workplaces, and stay in education."
While I agree with most of the bullets and the majority of the statement above, I think it is important that we take a step back and look at how we got to the point where our state and most other states have started to overhaul their teacher evaluation procedures.  We have to be sure to recognize the fact that a change of this nature is as much an adaptive (cultural) change for teachers as it is a technical change. Educational communities that embrace this fact and implement a transparent approach centered around focused conversations about teaching and learning will see success. If the focus is purely on meeting the new timelines and ensuring that every one of the 33 indicators is checked off then the results impact on teaching and learning will be limited.

Before I discuss some of the specific things that I think will help us make the transition to a new evaluation system successful, I think it is important to talk about why we are here. My next post will discuss how the poor job that schools have done evaluating teachers has gotten us to this point.

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