Saturday, November 28, 2009

RTTT: more on evaluations

In Race to the Top applications, states can earn a maximum of 500 points. As I blogged earlier, that includes 58 points for work to "improving teacher and principal effectiveness based on performance." Here's a closer look at that part of the application.

First, 5 points will be awarded based on state plans to ensure that districts “establish clear approaches to measuring student growth … and measure it for each individual student.”

Another 15 points will rest on state plans to ensure that districts set up teacher and principal evaluation systems that “differentiate effectiveness using multiple rating categories that take into account data on student growth … as a significant factor” and “are designed and developed with teacher and principal involvement.”

An additional 10 points are available for state plans to ensure that districts “conduct annual evaluations of teachers and principals that include timely and constructive feedback; as part of such evaluations, provide teachers and principals with data on student growth for their students, classes, and schools”

Finally, 28 points are offered for state plans to ensure that districts use those evaluations to make decisions on:

  • Development work to strengthen teachers and principals.
  • Compensation, promotion and retention.
  • Tenure.
  • Removal of “ineffective tenured and untenured teachers and principals after they have had ample opportunities to improve.

In the final and official application, it's worth noting the focus on districts. The earlier draft priorities called for states to do the work on this issue. The final priorities specify instead that participating districts are to do the main work, with the state being responsible for ensuring that they do it well. That means the federal department now accepts and expects a continuation of each district doing these things a bit differently from its neighbors.

That said, the push will be on to have all districts use evaluations that go beyond pass/fail or satisfactory/unsatisfactory basics. They will each need to define a "ladder" of increasing effectiveness. The evaluation process should then identify where each person's work stands on that ladder, and those identifications should guide both professional growth activities and district decisions about individual careers.

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