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Getting the New Teacher Evaluation System Right

CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg, at right,

CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg, at right, clarified the teacher evaluation dispute resolution process during a recent Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) meeting.

There will no longer be any ambiguity about whether school superintendents can cede authority to others for final dispute resolution connected with a school district Educator Evaluation and Support plan. Questioned by CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg at a public meeting this week, the State Department of Education’s Chief Talent Officer Sarah Barzee confirmed that a superintendent can assign the job of dispute resolution to a local Professional Development and Evaluation Committee (PDEC). The PDEC can design a process that results in the final decision regarding a dispute being made by educators other than the superintendent. Many teacher evaluation plans already include dispute resolution processes that involve a PDEC or sub-committee of both teachers and administrators, but in most of the plans, the final decision making authority still resides with the superintendent. This clarification from the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) expands the options for dispute resolution.

CEA believes that teachers should have a strong voice on PDECs, and dispute resolution is an appropriate role for the educators who staff the committees because the role promotes teacher decision-making and a climate of trust and respect in school districts.

The exchange over the dispute resolution process, a required element of district educator evaluation and support plans, came at this week’s PEAC meeting.

The State Department of Education (SDE) also gave PEAC an update regarding the Connecticut Common Core of Teaching (CCT) rubrics. At the meeting, consultants from Professional Examination Service presented an overview of their work with the SDE on ongoing validation of the teacher evaluation rubric being used in school districts. Consultant Sandy Greenberg said that a useful rubric is “clear, concise, comprehensive, and contemporary.”

Beginning this fall, the consultants’ upcoming validation activities with Connecticut educators include:

  • Surveys to gather content validity evidence from constituencies
    • Target audience: teachers, service providers, and/or administrators
    • Trained observers of target audience
    • Additional stakeholders (may include employers, supervisors, district-level personnel)
  •  Fairness reviews
  •  Reliability reviews
  •  Online focus panels with rubric users
  •  Observer post-observation confidence surveys

Coordinating with the SDE, the consultants estimate they will administer the surveys to a stratified sample of 5,000 teachers.

The consultants described rubrics as “living documents” that are always evolving. Their work in the validation of rubrics includes:

  •  Identifying behaviors that foster positive outcomes for students, teachers, schools, families and other key stakeholders in the education system
  •  Providing the basis for constructive, actionable feedback
  • Defensibility—ensuring that an evaluation instrument leads to the same judgments being made by different people using the instrument to evaluate teachers. This is critical from a fairness perspective as are:
    • Reliability
    • Validity

The consultants also explained that a rubric should:

  •  Reflect all experience levels
  •  Apply across settings, districts and positions
  •  Focus on components that impact positive outcomes
  •  Integrate key aspects of applicable standards
  •  Facilitate a consistent interpretation of the behaviors/actions being measured
  •  Translate into high-quality, actionable feedback
  •  Large-group discussions
  •  Small-group work and peer review
  •  Integrate content from literature

Despite the best efforts of psychometricians and validation processes, CEA’s Waxenberg said he believes there will always be elements of subjectivity in the evaluation process. Waxenberg stressed that the focus in teacher evaluation and support needs to be on professional development and support.

Trust is paramount in a good system, according to CEA President Sheila Cohen. Until trust is instilled in every district, there will be problems, she said.

Cohen and Waxenberg continue to hear from teachers that administrators are not being adequately and equally trained across Connecticut—a problem that results in inequity and unfairness for teachers.

BlogCEA would like to hear your assessment of your administrator’s training and preparation for your evaluation. Was it up to snuff? Were you shortchanged because your administrator didn’t have sufficient training? We’d like to hear from you.

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