A critical component of this research project was the active involvement of local education stakeholders through four state-based advisory panels. These panels, which The New Teacher Project convened in each of the study states of Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois and Ohio, were established in order to ensure that The Widget Effect reflected diverse viewpoints and the knowledge and perspective of local and state-level leaders. See a list of the advisory panel members »
The advisory panels—including more than 50 district and state officials and 25 teachers’ union representatives—brought to bear participants’ substantial experience and expertise to inform the study methodology, findings and recommendations. In the end, panel members were invited to submit unedited written responses to the following questions:
- Do you believe that the advisory panel structure has been a helpful approach to studying the issue of teacher dismissal for poor instructional performance?
- To what extent do you agree with TNTP’s conclusion that all stakeholders must come together to create more credible and meaningful ways of differentiating teacher performance if we are to know which teachers should be retained, developed, and dismissed?
- After participating in this process, what next step do you see for you or your organization to ensure that instances of ineffective instruction are addressed? What step would you most like to see other parties take?
Responses from the Advisory Panel
ArkansasArkansas Assn. of Educational Admin. Arkansas Education Association Jonesboro Public School District Springdale Public Schools
ColoradoAurora Public Schools Colorado Education Association Denver Public Schools Pueblo City Schools Pueblo Education Association
IllinoisAdvance Illinois Chicago Public Schools Elgin Teachers Association Illinois Assn. of School Boards Illinois Assn. of School Personnel Admin Illinois State Board of Education Rockford Education Association
OhioAkron Education Association Akron Public Schools Battelle for Kids Cincinnati Federation of Teachers Cincinnati Public Schools Ohio Assn. of Secondary School Admin. Ohio Education Association Ohio Federation of Teachers
Arkansas Assn. of Educational Admin. Michael Mertens, Assistant Executive Director
I believe the advisory panel structure was somewhat helpful in studying the issue of teacher dismissal. However, there was too much time between the meetings (weather issues) and I don’t believe two meetings were sufficient for the panel to adequately engage in the process.
There is no question that all stakeholders must come together in a comprehensive review process if we are to know which teachers are to be retained, developed, and dismissed. This has to be a collaborative effort. In some states, this will require changes in existing laws, so the legal staff of the various stakeholders need to be involved to some extent.
The “next step” is to train evaluators to be better evaluators of actual teaching performance, no matter what evaluation system is in place. Much effort has been placed on developing the actual evaluation “tool” and there are some very good evaluation instruments out there. However, not enough effort has been placed on evaluator training. It must be intense and ongoing. I also believe that Recommendation #4 is crucial. The dismissal process HAS to easier than it is currently. More emphasis is placed on the process (i.e., the actual writing of the termination notice) rather than judging the termination or non-renewal on the merits of the case.
Arkansas Education Association Rich Nagel, Executive Director
1. The New Teacher Project’s (TNTP’s) advisory panel structure has been a helpful approach to providing limited information about teacher dismissal for poor instructional performance in Arkansas, but it falls short of a definitive study of the issue.
2. I agree with TNTP’s conclusion that all stakeholders must come together to create credible and meaningful ways of differentiating the performance of teachers. Teacher evaluation is a collaborative process that should lead to systemic change and improvement. Effective evaluation systems support the induction of beginning teachers, promote the professional growth of career educators, improve performance when it falls short of expectations and provide standards for making responsible employment decisions.
3. The Arkansas Education Association will continue to develop effective evaluation systems for educators that are collaborative, support system-wide improvement, and are consistent with the state’s licensure principles that reflect what educators should know and be able to do. I would like to see the stakeholders from the Arkansas Department of Education, school districts, professional associations and other interested parties continue working collaboratively to improve the evaluation process, policy and instrument for all educators.
Jonesboro Public School District Sue Castleberry, Assistant Superintendent
The manner in which the advisory panel has functioned has been a most beneficial experience for our district. It is so helpful when the districts within Arkansas can come together and discuss the central issue of teacher dismissal as well as having the latitude to initiate conversations regarding additional concerns that are related to the central issue. You and your staff created an open and comfortable environment for us to speak honestly to the issues. Each district had various experiences to share and brought philosophies that, while different in some manner, were similar with the goal of providing the very best teacher product for the students.
I do believe that the educators in Arkansas should examine and address the development of a general framework for evaluation purposes. However, the tool itself is only a tool. As noted in our discussion, teacher differences, district differences, cultural differences require the districts to have the ability to use the basic framework of the assessment tool and then make proper additions and modifications that will meet the needs of the district. One of the most important components of the overall evaluation process must be the training for those administrators and other evaluators responsible for the evaluation process. In addition, the philosophy and driving force for the evaluation process must be clearly identified as teacher improvement, and teacher growth, rather than automatic dismissal.
Our district central office team will immediately review the findings of TNTP. Following that review and brainstorming sessions, we then will bring our administrative team and our teacher teams into the review process. From there, we anticipate that we will develop training within our district to address the evaluation process. Through this process, we will identify expectations for the administrators, evaluators, and teachers in regard to the evaluation process. This, of course, will include the identification of those practices which lead to effective and ineffective instructional strategies.
Springdale Public Schools Hartzell Jones, Deputy Superintendent for Personnel
1. Yes. The advisory panels’ membership represented a large segment of stakeholders who should be at the table, with two exceptions, teachers and representatives from higher education. Teachers’ unions may be intended to represent all teachers, but in Arkansas that is not true. Professors from teacher preparation programs should address how they prepare students to be “effective” teachers.
2. With an increased focus on and demand for accountability regarding student achievement, there must be ongoing and concentrated dialogue about improving teacher effectiveness. Therefore, I strongly agree that teacher performance can and must be identified and measured as being effective or not. This type of work regarding teacher performance goes hand-in-hand with the efforts to identify and reward “good” pedagogy with merit pay.
3. We need to develop a succinct performance appraisal system that recognizes good work, helps marginal employees get better and identifies employees who should be dismissed due to their inability to improve. Student performance must be the driving force to improve our current systems. Other parties need to do the same. With NCLB, merit pay, stimulus money, etc., the demand for accountability is not just a local school district issue. There must be some leadership at the state and national level and the work needs to be based on research.
Aurora Public Schools Chris Gramstorff, Human Resources Director
The structure of the advisory panel has been very beneficial in studying the issues of teacher dismissal for poor instructional performance. Education is impacted by a huge number of forces in the state and in the nation. Understanding the full impact of those forces is impossible unless individuals with different connections to education bring their knowledge and experience into the work done by the panel.
It is critical that all stakeholders come together to create more credible and meaningful ways of differentiating teacher performance. Only then can we make progress with creating a truly effective tool that continues to aid in the development of teaching professionals who are responsive to the changing needs of students, schools, parents, and the public. I believe that teachers who are truly interested in the betterment of their profession are also interested in the creation of a performance evaluation system that measures their individual effectiveness and their growth as professionals. The outgrowth of this will be the betterment of the educational process as a whole. I believe this is also what our public desires and deserves.
Aurora Public Schools is currently reviewing our teacher performance evaluation instrument, work that will include the review of research, best practices, and examples of cutting-edge evaluation instruments. The mission of Aurora Public Schools: “To teach every student the knowledge, skills and values necessary to enter college or a career and become a contributing member of society who flourishes in a diverse, dynamic world.” Part of our strategic plan is to ensure that all employees are highly qualified and skilled for their positions, something that will be enhanced through the development and use of an effective performance evaluation instrument.
On behalf of Aurora Public Schools, I wish to thank you and the other members of your organization as well as the members of the Colorado Advisory Panel. The work done regarding teacher performance evaluation is a critical and necessary step that must be taken as we work to address issues of academic growth of the students in our schools.
Colorado Education Association Linda Barker, Director of Teaching & Learning; Beverly Ingle, President
The Colorado Education Association (CEA) believes that the four major TNTP-identified draft recommendations is an appropriate framework within which a detailed teacher performance evaluation system can be built, and that a common understanding and agreement between all stakeholders is imperative for the successful implementation and use of the resulting system.
However, the Advisory Panel Structure, while supportive of the main draft recommendations, does not provide the data necessary to support the in-depth analysis needed for unconditional buy-in among stakeholders.
More work is needed to gain a clear understanding of the report data and outlined indicators to address stakeholder’s concerns for differentiating teaching and learning performance. Indicators must be linked directly to the appropriate personnel policies.
Progressive performance evaluation systems coupled with critical human capital policies can lead to new ways to think about issues from teacher assignments to compensation systems if stakeholders are part of the design and implementation process.
CEA believes that any new system should not be constructed to circumvent teachers’ rights to due process, and that financial incentives must be fair to, and understood by, all stakeholders.
Denver Public Schools Shayne Spalten, Chief Human Resources Officer
The future of our country depends on our ability to prepare the next generation of leaders and citizens for the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead. We must be adamant, therefore, about ensuring that every child, regardless of race, ethnicity, disability or socioeconomic status, is able to reach his or her potential and prepared to succeed in college and life.
The research is clear that the most important factor to providing improved outcomes for students is an effective teacher in each classroom. As the evidence in this report makes clear, however, we are not adequately distinguishing between those teachers who have been successful in driving improved outcomes for children and those who have not.
Through the Advisory Committee, we have benefited from the perspectives of our union, community, state and other district partners as we have deepened our understanding of the issue, explored the challenges and discussed the path forward. From these discussions, it is clear that no one group alone can meet the challenge of ensuring an effective teacher in every classroom. If we are to succeed in creating systems that serve all children, we must put improved student learning at the center of our discussions. And together, we must take responsibility for establishing effective ways of identifying, rewarding and retaining our highest performing educators, offering meaningful opportunities for teachers to improve their practice and, where necessary, fair and efficient systems for removing teachers who, despite this support, fail to help students grow.
Pueblo City Schools Patricia Gonzalez, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources
1. I found the advisory panel structure to be very interactive and productive in discussing the issue of teacher dismissal. The format allowed participants to explore the issue directly as there were numerous opinions and points of view on the topic that opened up the opportunity to discuss various aspects of the problem.
2. I do agree with this conclusion as the issue is fairly complex in nature. All stakeholders involved in improving the process must work together to arrive at a system that is more clear cut and not so cumbersome if we are to improve teacher performance. The use of a valid/appropriate evaluation tool is very important in the differentiation as it is this tool that brings to light the specific areas of growth that each teacher needs. Other factors, such as consistent observation of the classroom teaching and follow-up discussion, are also very vital to determining differentiation of skills, developing new and improved skills before the process for dismissal begins.
3. After participating in this process, the next step I see for our organization to ensure that instances of ineffective instruction are addressed is to search for a more effective Evaluation tool. Our district has a Personnel Performance committee in place and meets to monitor, evaluate and make suggestions for the improvement of the entire teacher evaluation process. Currently this committee is actively researching, studying, and discussing a totally new teacher evaluation instrument. One of the models being studied is the Charlotte Danielson framework. We will take at least one year to study and pilot the model we design so that all stakeholders can determine what suits our needs best. Retaining effective teachers is impossible without an effective evaluation tool if the process is to remain objective. Development of professionals also requires a trained, effective instructional leader. Dismissal is such an intimidating process it takes a courageous, confident leader to initiate the process since it requires persistence, patience and resolve. I would most like to see legislators and legal authorities improve the dismissal process by making it more streamlined so that it is not so complicated and cumbersome. The amount of time it takes to pursue dismissal makes it very difficult to make timely staffing placement. It only prolongs the presence of an ineffective person within the educational system.
Pueblo Education Association Pamela Constuble, Teacher, Pueblo City Schools
1. The advisory panel structure has been a helpful model by bringing a variety of individuals, for whom quality public education is a concern, together to investigate and discuss the underlying factors which impact teacher evaluations and performance including: adopted curriculum, teacher qualifications, professional development, supplies and materials, leadership, administrative training, evaluation criteria, instruments, and procedures. These complex factors impact and sometimes distort effective evaluation of content delivery and instruction.
Educators, both teachers and administrators, desire a professional environment where ensuring educational effectiveness is a foundations focus. The tools to accomplish valid assessment of teacher, administrator, and school effectiveness are currently faulty and outdated.
2. I believe that all stakeholders should come together to create a more credible, meaningful, and productive system for teacher, administrator, and school effectiveness evaluations. Teachers are professionals who value their chosen career and would like to work with colleagues who are excited and knowledgeable about their fields and teaching in general. Teachers and administrators working together in a system which promotes teachers as professionals and supports their professional development to meet the needs of their students, increase instructional quality, and develop effective curriculum is a benefit to all.
3. I would like to see a true partnership between administration and teachers to develop, train, implement, and maintain a realistic, balanced, research-based, formative evaluation system which values and recognizes teachers as processionals. This system should evaluate those aspects which are truly within teacher control. A system which recognizes the importance of instructors who are knowledgeable, effective communicators and facilitators to promote student skills and learning. A system which promotes teacher goals, risk, and growth as instructors while accounting for varying teacher strengths and styles. Teachers, like students, are always developing. As Seneca once said, “While we teach, we learn.”
Advance Illinois Robin Steans, Executive Director
If there’s one thing researchers, policy experts and practitioners agree on, it’s this: the push to improve student performance depends, almost entirely, on the skills, drive and ingenuity of the teacher at the front of the classroom. For far too long though, teachers have received only meager support to develop their skills and little-to-no regular feedback on what they’re doing well and where they need to improve. So it’s no surprise that this lack of a standardized, consistent framework for ongoing performance review has created a teacher evaluation process that, in many districts and states, lacks teeth or substance.
We applaud The New Teacher Project for delving into a subject that most agree merits greater attention, but that generally escapes serious discussion. The advisory panels put together by the New Teacher Project stimulated relevant inquiry and highlight, more than ever, a basic truism facing any serious educator: A more comprehensive, more meaningful system for evaluating teacher performance must be a pillar of any agenda to improve classroom instruction.
Regular classroom observation and feedback helps inform what sort of professional development individual teachers need, and identifies teachers who may need additional support to effectively meet classroom challenges. In addition, meaningful evaluation allows schools and districts to cross reference evaluation data with various student performance measures — critical information that can then be used to determine which teachers and methods are most effective, with which students, and in which circumstances.
Collectively, this creates a foundation of knowledge that supports informed and transparent decision-making aimed at improving practice and guided by what students need to succeed.
Advance Illinois looks forward to working with The New Teacher Project to translate the thoughtful recommendations contained in this report into equally thoughtful action. While the issues involved are complex and sometimes emotional, we are long overdue to improve this important piece of the educational puzzle.
Chicago Public Schools District 299
1. The Chicago Public Schools team believes that the structure of an advisory panel was important in providing a multiple perspective from districts across Illinois to guide TNTP’s research and recommendations. It was most helpful to hear the opinions and experiences from union representatives and district representatives — it was clear that the three districts expressed the same concerns about tenured teacher dismissal regardless of their size.
2. All stakeholders — districts, unions, elected officials, state boards of education and the U.S. Department of Education — need to contribute to this important dialogue. There is nothing more important or fundamental to education than the selection, retention, development, evaluation and dismissal of teachers. This study by TNTP provides the background and research on the low, almost insignificant, number of teacher dismissals should push all stakeholders into action.
3. Next steps for CPS include:
- Instituting a new teacher evaluation system
- Establishing an attainment of tenure process that is finely connected to teacher evaluation
- Studying the results of the TNTP study to develop retention, development and dismissal strategies
- Seeking the support of senior leadership to make the study’s recommendations priority.
- Providing better, in-depth and on-going training to administrators on teacher evaluation and teacher dismissal
- Working with all stakeholders in the district to develop and implement a teachers’ evaluation program that leads to defining teacher excellence and conversely helps identify poor performers who need to be dismissed.
Elgin Teachers Association Tim Davis, President
1. Yes, the panel structure has been helpful. The first time we met last July, TNTP shared the vision and purpose for conducting the study, and, most importantly, asked for recommendations and guidance into how this could best be accomplished.
In subsequent panel structure meetings, TNTP provided updates on the progress that they were making in completing the survey.
Finally, the panel structure provided an opportunity for stakeholders from U-46, Rockford, CPS and other districts to network and dialogue about teacher dismissal practices. Objective data has been missing from the dismissal of teachers for poor performance debate.
2. I am in strong agreement with this conclusion. Our district is not well served by our current system, which is highly subjective, and that is why we have worked hard to bring forward a new teacher appraisal system based on Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching. A question to consider is should evaluation in Illinois districts’ be random, or should states adopt a system like BEST used in Connecticut?
3. As previously mentioned, U-46 is rolling out a new Teacher Appraisal system in the 2009 —- 2010 school year. One of our system challenges will be providing enough training for administrators so that we will have inter-rater reliability in a short period of time. Well designed Professional Development, for teachers and administrators, will be needed to sustain the new appraisal system as we get underway. Providing adequate resources for training in lean economic times will be a challenge.
Next steps might include having TNTP (CEC or the New Teacher Center might also be a source for bringing districts together) sponsor regional cohorts to continue the discussion as CPS, Rockford, U-46 and other districts transition to comprehensive, standards-based evaluations.
Illinois Assn. of School Boards Cynthia S. Woods, Director for Advocacy
1. I believe the advisory panel structure has been a good first step in addressing teacher dismissal for poor performance. I think it needed more time and more opportunity to dialogue among the panel members as well as others who might benefit from these outcomes. (A broader base of districts and school leaders, including regional and state officials). I would like to have included and heard more about the longitudinal data system potential and how it can help in dealing with teacher performance. I also would like to have heard more about the development and use of teacher mentors (with a Type 75 distinction to be used solely as “teacher mentor” and no classroom duty) for this issue.
2. I am not sure of what your definition of “stakeholders” is. My hope is that it includes school board members (in understanding and then setting policy), superintendents as well as principals and teachers. I believe the concept of expanding the base on which teacher performance is evaluated can only be positive, and any place a cross-sectional group of educators can work together is to be encouraged.
3. As I mentioned in #1 I think this process has been a good first step, but more needs to be done. I think the groundwork done so far needs to be shared with a larger audience. It needs to be discussed and have buy-in with a larger Illinois educator audience. From the perspective of “management” it is crucial that school boards be aware of this movement and feel some ownership of the undertaking. They need to be having this discussion and setting policy at the board table, both locally and statewide.
Illinois Assn. of School Personnel Admin Beth Dalton, Former President
I appreciate the opportunity to participate on the Illinois Advisory Panel for The New Teacher Project’s study of teacher evaluation.
The use of an advisory panel offered the opportunity to bring stakeholders together with varying views to discuss the issue at hand. At times, I felt that conversation and participation was impacted because of the presence of all stakeholders, yet I believe that the genuine issues of concern were identified.
I fully endorse the conclusions of The New Teacher Project regarding teacher evaluation. TNTP identified specific characteristics required for a performance evaluation system to be effective. My personal experience in human resources serves as an example that the adoption of a standards-based performance evaluation plan does not itself alone make the system effective; the system must be implemented with integrity, incorporate accountability and link to professional development.
Through my participation on the Illinois Advisory Panel, I have reflected on our District’s performance evaluation system, which led to discussion amongst our administrative team. As a group, we have determined that our plan needs work to make the system more effective. As a result, we began to work with our teachers to clarify the performance standards we currently utilize and will expand the study of this issue next school year to a review of the entire plan.
Overall, I think that the issue of ineffective teacher performance evaluation systems is present in urban, rural and suburban schools. In addition, socioeconomic factors do not change the concern. One of the biggest challenges facing this issue will be to shift the culture of schools away from viewing evaluation as judging to utilizing the process as a way to assist teaching professionals to grow and develop their practice.
Illinois State Board of Education Linda Tomlinson, Assistant Superintendent
The Advisory Panel was designed to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders from Illinois. Representation included K-12 educators and administrators, professional associations, the Illinois State Board of Education, as well as representatives from business and the community. The structure of the panel gave panel members opportunities to hear from others about performance measures being used and to discuss the results of the work being completed with this study.
It is critical that as steps are taken to ensure that every child has the opportunity to learn from the most effective teachers, diverse stakeholders be involved. The impact of reviewing how teachers and administrators are evaluated, as well as the impact of evaluations and decisions made about pay and retention, needs to be discussed openly so that questions can be raised and concerns addressed. Illinois is a very diverse state and decisions about hiring, teacher evaluations, and retention are decided at the local level. Therefore, it is paramount that unions, professional associations, teachers, administrators, and representatives from business and the community be involved as we collaborate and work toward ensuring that all students have effective teachers.
TNTP has provided an opportunity to begin the discussion about performance evaluations for teachers and administrators. First review of the findings supports states do need to further be aware of what types of evaluation instruments are being used and whether current evaluations are based on standards and teacher effectiveness. Additional collaboration with stakeholders will be needed to further discuss current practices being used to evaluate teachers and administrators and to determine if additional guidance needs to be considered.
Rockford Education Association Molly Phalen, President
Future directions, based on each recommendation by TNTP:
- Work on reliable, standards-based teacher evaluations by professionals should be explored. Frequent feedback and professional development are absolutely necessary for teachers at all stages of their careers. Intensive support must be provided for all teachers who need assistance to improve. Without this support, teachers’ unions will be forced into their old role of adversarial advocacy.
- Training for administrators must be intensive and quality must be consistent. Most current administrators have little classroom experience and even less with effective teaching strategies.
- To base employment, tenure and salary on the current broken system is certainly not going to be seriously considered by unions. Progress must be made on developing the trusting, collaborative relationship outlined in this document before anyone will work to incorporate these components into a Professional Agreement.
- Due process for teachers must be guaranteed, predictable and comprehensive.
This study neither implicates nor supports the supposition that unions intentionally assisted in the perpetuation of ineffective teaching in schools. The discussion about teacher quality absent the discussion of administrator quality is irresponsible and short-sighted. Quality comes in many forms: quality of preparation, of the evaluation tool, of the teaching, of the evaluator, of the feedback and the quality of assistance.
Certainly, teacher evaluation is an important issue but it becomes clear when reviewing this study that changing only evaluation policies and procedures will not solve the problem of ineffective teachers and underperforming schools. All aspects of teacher preparation, evaluation, professional development and labor management relationships must be examined. This study importantly links professional development and support as a critical component of effective evaluation systems. Without the cooperation and collaboration of each stakeholder, it is doubtful that substantive changes will occur. The opportunities are obvious, the pitfalls daunting.
Karen Bieschke, Vice President
The third recommendation of this study engendered the most discussion.
Unions need to be an integral partner in this new way of looking at teaching, learning and evaluation. Rather than a ‘top down’ organization, we have to create partnerships centered on the issues of quality. We must be a part of the solution to fix the broken system. These are the most meaningful conversations we could ever have.
Administrators, teacher and students need to establish clear and meaningful expectations and then be provided with the skills and tools to reach these high goals. Setting a mutually high bar for everyone in terms of learning and teaching, paired with the support to reach those goals, creates a strong partnership that can accomplish what seems now to be very difficult.
We are at the doorstep of huge opportunities. Working collaboratively is what teachers want to do. We realize that the power of one-plus-one is stronger than the sum of the individual parts. This partnership with all of the stakeholders, including students, around the issues of quality education and evaluation is a very powerful concept. Along with administrators and students we can decide how to fairly measure student outcomes and combine these outcomes with evaluations to measure growth.
Teacher unions must not insulate themselves against discussions of quality, attempting to maintain the status quo. We cannot emphasize enough that only when there is an atmosphere of mutual trust and collaboration based on shared values, can the discussion include the long-held traditions of teacher assignment, compensation and dismissal.
Akron Education Association Bill Siegferth, President
TNTP’s research further illustrates that, for the most part, teacher evaluation processes across our nation are broken and have been for decades. I suspect this is true primarily because of our failure to treat the appraisal of teachers—tenured or otherwise—as an on-going means to improve classroom instruction and encourage professional growth. Regrettably, evaluation continues to be one in a series of tasks the evaluator (usually a principal) is expected to complete within the school year routine, or it is used as a means to reward or punish teachers for various purposes as far away from instructional improvement as imaginable.
TNTP is to be commended for creating state advisory panels whose membership included stakeholders of widely varied backgrounds. Stakeholder input resulted in a set of recommendations much broader in scope than one may have expected in consideration of the study’s title. Evaluation should go well beyond being used as a tool on which to base employment decisions, and I believe the recommendations indicate as much.
However, I oppose recommendations that stray too far from those concerning instructional improvement or fair dismissal procedures. I do not support, for example, basing layoff decisions on performance, particularly when the performance of those who might be affected is adequate and judgments have to be made as to the degree of adequacy. Nor do I believe in withholding salary step increases for “low-performing” teachers; in such cases, attempts should be made to remediate the problems after which the teacher should be retained or dismissed. I do not believe we can discuss issues of this nature until the evaluation process is truly one that is fair, credible and accurate and that all stakeholders can buy into with complete confidence. That has not been achieved over at least the last century, and it is questionable that we as educators can achieve that lofty goal over the next 100 years.
Akron Public Schools Kathy McVey, Manager, Fringe Benefits
1. The advisory panel structure has been helpful in bringing to the forefront some of the obstacles we face regarding teacher dismissal for poor performance. Poor instructional performance leads to poor outcomes for our students. As a district, we need to work more closely with our teachers, union leadership and administrators and create a more effective evaluation tool in order to develop a high-quality teaching workforce.
2. In order to develop a high-quality teaching workforce, all stakeholders must play an important role in teacher success. Stakeholders include administration and human resources, teachers, principals, union leadership and, of course, the superintendent. We must work together to address instructional performance.
3. As the district moves forward in its work to address poor instructional performance as well as the development of our workforce, we must focus on Human Capital. The Human Capital initiative will focus on three (3) key areas: performance management (teacher evaluation), training of administrators in the professional development management system and induction. This initiative involves many stakeholders throughout the district. Performance management will involve an evaluation process that focuses on new teachers so that they become successful, effective teachers. Strong, successful teachers, of course, will result in a higher success rate for our most important client, our students.
As we look at performance management and the success of our teachers, another important component to our success will be the development of an effective induction process. An effective induction process for our district will not only focus on new teachers but also veteran teachers as they face new challenges whether it be in a new building or new grade level. Proper and effective induction will allow us to reach our ultimate goal, the success of all of our students.
Battelle for Kids Tony Bagshaw, Senior Director of Knowledge Management
1. The process of using advisory groups was very smart politically and also allowed TNTP to meet some new folks or develop deeper relationships. It added credibility in the field to the overall process. You might consider having some “like work groups” sessions. The only negative I saw was that the union folks tended to dominate the conversation [and perhaps that is our fault]. This is typical. Those folks are “employed” to make the “teacher case” 24/7/365. Only one administrator spoke on Tuesday and I did not agree with his comments but felt it was inappropriate to wreak havoc and leave [once again my fault]. I think you might get some more “candid” comments in “like” work groups.
2. None of what you found surprises me. All the incentives in the system push toward “ignoring the problem” and you did a great job of defining those. “It won’t do any good”, “There are better ways to get growth out of your people”, “All teachers expect high marks and if you evaluate honestly it creates issue in the building culture”, etc. The bottom line is smart principals figure out pretty quickly the key is to, “Hire well and prune gently”. The formal evaluation process is a, “You stay or you go” tool. Helping people grow is accomplished through other means.
The volume of data you have and four-state nature will make this very, very credible and I hope it impacts the profession in a very real way. I felt your team really did “let the data guide them” in lieu of having an agenda and pursuing data that supported that agenda. Bravo!
3. I have a strong bias as I started with this world view, but I really do think your ideas around “multiple data points and multiple perspectives” being the right way to measure teacher quality is “the” idea. Value-added data is a great example. Should it be the sole measure of teacher quality? Of course not. Clearly we believe it is “good stuff”, but any data point in isolation is questionable. But, what if we had two or three years of substandard value-added data combined with other data sources that all “pointed” in the same direction? I always think about the Gallup work around “high disengaged employees” in the general work force around the world and contrast that with the number of dismissals in the education field and cringe.
I really did enjoy working with your team and I am always super impressed with the overall quality of your folks. I see our organizations as very “like minded.” We all have to keep the lights on, but we do get to engage in things that can really impact our profession in a positive way and that is a blessing.
Cincinnati Federation of Teachers Tim Kraus, President
1. The Advisory Panel Structure is a useful way for an organization like TNTP to receive Work-in-Progress feedback on a study. I think our panel conversation was frank and helpful in creating a context for the work TNTP is doing. Whenever one does a study of this nature there is a tendency to make the topic of the study a “silver bullet” that will address all problems. Teacher evaluation, dismissal, and retention is an important issue for educators in America to address, but I do not think this issue can be studied without placing it in the context of our overall education system and how it is structured. As long as we force educators to work in “factory-like” settings that work at cross purposes with needs of 21st Century learning, improved teacher performance evaluation will only be partially effective, at best.
2. I agree that all stakeholders need to come together to create a more effective teacher evaluation system. Cincinnati did try to do just that when we created our Teacher Evaluation System. Our system is a living, breathing structure that has changed for the better over time.
3. We are constantly looking for ways to improve and build upon our evaluation system. The difficulty for us is that we do not have many other national examples to follow that have as detailed or as comprehensive of an approach to teacher evaluation. Comprehensive evaluation systems like ours are very expensive to run and we can only evaluate 1/5 of the teachers each year. If this is where our country is going we will need to find many, many more dollars to do this, particularly if every teacher is comprehensively evaluated every year. Again, I caution us all to consider changing the larger context of school structure first.
Cincinnati Public Schools Julia Indalecio, Teacher Programs Manager
1. The structure of the advisory panel was an excellent means by which to gather information across districts and get a real sense as to the direction of the study and the importance key critical issues being dealt with by TNTP in this project. It also provided a forum for districts to look at the data and consider the causes and results of the information being presented and which will be presented in its entirety at a later date. The advisory panel, through discourse and discussion, provided feedback to the research team and asked questions and raised concerns which may have helped the team to ensure they were tackling the “right” issue.
2. Cincinnati’s approach to evaluation has been collaborative from the inception of our Teacher Evaluation System. We understand and value the voices of all stakeholders in trying to reach and end which maximizes the positive effect actions will have. In looking at the issue with even a broader lens we would argue that unless all stakeholders are at the table and engaged, this issues can’t fully be dissected and resolved to meet the needs of all who are there for the cause of furthering education for all students.
3. While I think we try very hard to have the tools and instruments available to our administrators to evaluate and assist our teachers, I also believe there is more work to be done. Clearly, the task of non-renewing or terminating a teacher for performance is not an easy one; nor should it be. However, sometimes administrators’ hands are less tied than they think because of the processes at hand. If I can work to create more professional development for administrators on how to coach teachers who are “on the bubble” to better their practice and how to use the negotiated tools we have to have a teacher who is struggling top be placed on intervention, we may be meeting both ends.
Ohio Assn. of Secondary School Admin. Kenneth Baker, Associate Executive Director
The critical piece for our organization (which represents secondary principals throughout Ohio) is to begin dialogue with other faction groups to establish some “common ground”… i.e., “what is good teaching?”, “what is the role of the building administration in teacher development?”, “what are the necessary steps to remove ineffective teachers from the classroom?”, and “are there certain qualities/characteristics to look for when interviewing that would increase teacher success in the classroom?”
Of course, the key to all of this is a collegial, cordial “discussion” between these groups — which is something that has been a challenge in the past. However, with information from this study, and the initiatives of Governor Strickland’s education reform plan for Ohio, we have possibility of changing those long-standing issues.
The structure of the advisory panel was particularly impressive due to the diversity of the members, along with the willingness to discuss difficult issues without emphasizing a political posture. I was made to feel that we were working toward a common goal.
It is critical that the work of this committee not remain as simply a written report to be read… there must be action from the different groups, with a goal of improving our antiquated system of teacher evaluation and dismissal. The energy of potential change must be carried forward by the groups who have participated. There has been much common ground established—what we do with it is our charge.
Ohio Education Association Michelle Winship, Education Reform Consultant
The advisory panel structure helped TNTP redirect its research study away from dismissal of tenured teachers for poor performance to the larger and more complex issue of teacher evaluation. By working with its advisory panels, TNTP’s study was able to validate what educators have been advocating for high quality comprehensive performance evaluation systems that are structured to support educator professional growth to improve education for every student.
TNTP data shows that evaluation processes are not producing the desired outcome — high quality educators. In our current paradigm, evaluation serves as an administrative tool used to verify teacher incompetence through a process that is neither valued nor validated by the teachers themselves. Observations are cursory, documentation is minimal, and rarely do evaluators have the training they need to provide substantive feedback that teachers can use.
Differentiating teacher performance is only one step in addressing the problem. What is required is a radical shift in our thinking about the purposes and processes of teacher evaluation. Rather than a check-off administrative task, teacher evaluation needs to be an integral component of a well-aligned, standards-based, high-quality professional development system. Stakeholders must come together to develop common standards, clear and unambiguous performance expectations, and rubrics that are designed to be used by trained assessors to provide detailed performance data making teacher evaluation a valuable professional development tool for educators at all stages of their careers.
OEA is committed to working with other education stakeholders to build state capacity and support for such systems and to help our locals design and implement them. In a system designed to ensure educator quality, support is provided for all teachers to help them reach individual professional development goals, and the evaluation process is a collaborative, shared responsibility to ensure every child has a team of high performing educators.
Ohio Federation of Teachers Sue Taylor, President; Debra Tully, Director of Professional Issues
1. The advisory panel structure has been helpful in giving stakeholders an opportunity to discuss issues around teacher dismissal. Reviewing research for each district promoted good discussion, offering insight into the information that was uncovered. Even more helpful, though, would be collaboration to determine how to expand the focus from evaluation to a broader examination of conditions requisite for the continuing development and professionalism of educators — rather than using it as a stick in employment decisions. The shift in focus also has to rest on teaching and learning conditions and how these conditions either enhance or detract an educator’s effectiveness.
2. The process of learning, and therefore developing teachers, is complex, requiring an expansion of the focus of discussion and recommendations. It is always best when stakeholders work together to create tools used to determine teacher quality. The Ohio Federation of Teachers believes it is more helpful to expand the focus of the discussion. It is important to understand that the purpose of evaluation is to be formative and supportive in creating effective educators. Employment decisions then can be made accordingly as a byproduct. Discussions in TNTP were very narrowly focused on the evaluation process as an employment decision tool.
3. OFT encourages our members to work with district administration to create formative, supportive evaluation systems (peer review when possible). In addition to resolutions in support of the concept, we conduct workshops and work with AFT to provide technical support to our locals that are interested in such a project. We want the state to recognize teachers as professionals and work together with educators to create a meaningful evaluation system that supports the effectiveness of educators. Such a system focuses on expanding and growing the skills necessary to be a great teacher and is not used solely in making employment decisions.