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Important Work Remains Undone on Teacher Evaluations

CEA sent the letter below to the commissioner of education March 28. For background on the Performance Evaluation and Advisory Council (PEAC), read The Point on PEAC and New Framework for Teacher Evaluations on cea.org.

Dear Commissioner Pryor:

As you are aware, the full PEAC committee has not met since February 6, 2012.  The February 27th full committee meeting was abruptly cancelled and meetings with individual groups were scheduled in its place. The work group meetings for some groups have begun.  But as of today, no other full PEAC committee meetings have been set.  We have several concerns about the amount of work that must be done by PEAC in order to guide the work of the four work groups (teacher evaluation, administrator evaluation, pupil services evaluation, and implementation).

The following are the tasks we understand PEAC must complete so the work of the four groups can be appropriately guided:

  1. Agree on clear definitions for the four evaluation ratings to be used: exemplary, proficient, developing, and below standard.
  2. Review the Common Core of Teaching domains and develop a continuum of practice that aligns with the evaluation ratings to be used.
  3. Agree on clear definitions of ‘valid, reliable, fair, and useful,’ as they will apply to evaluation of both teachers and those educators below the rank of superintendent.
  4. Finalize work on the teacher evaluation guidelines, which were started last year.  This includes having discussions on, and making decisions about, issues that will affect the work of the sub groups, such as:
    1. What it means to ‘consider’ the control factors tracked by the data system, and how that will be done fairly in evaluation;
    2. What ‘minimum requirements for evaluation instruments and procedures’ means and how that will apply to all educators;
    3. Discuss how student CMT and CAPT scores are to be used in evaluation, given that March test administration results are not received until August, well after the teacher’s evaluation based on those students must be completed.
  5. Agree on a communication system so members are well informed of how the work being done by the work groups aligns and interacts.

This is just the beginning of the work that lies ahead for PEAC, which by statute, is to have the guidelines completed by July 1, 2012.  The State Department of Education has said it plans for a pilot program of the new evaluation system this September.  Full implementation of the new system would follow, according to the SDE timeline, in September 2013.  However, with no meeting schedule set, it may be almost impossible for PEAC to complete the work that needs to be done before a meaningful pilot program can even be conducted.

Simply put, before the end of June, we need to complete the guidelines; develop the state model plan aligned with those guidelines; assure that rubrics are developed that align with the standards to be used in evaluation (the Common Core of Teaching and the Leadership Standards, which haven’t yet been approved by the State Board of Education); assure that tools for collecting various types of data are designed; and establish the pilot program.

The processes PEAC was assured would be in place to move this work forward have not yet been followed.  This is frustrating and disappointing, in light of the progress PEAC made during the meetings you convened in December 2011 and January 2012.  We believe that having to depend on the schedules of facilitators from outside the state has slowed progress.

We respectfully suggest that the full PEAC begin to meet as soon as possible and develop and agree to guidelines based on our agreed-upon framework, per our statutory charge and responsibility.

In addition, we need to agree on the roles and responsibilities of the work groups, in light of the above, and clearly integrate their work into the work of the full PEAC.

We look forward to your response and are willing to meet with you to discuss our concerns.  Our goal is to move the PEAC process along so we can achieve our legislative mandates.

Thank you for your attention and consideration.

Sincerely,

Phil Apruzzese                                                                        Mary Loftus Levine
CEA President                                                                         CEA Executive Director

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