Thursday, February 9, 2012

Teacher Evaluation - closer to home . . .

Today, we had our large group meeting of the Teacher/Principal Evaluation Pilot (TPEP) team to review and provide direction to the smaller working team. The team is composed of teachers including TEA reps, principals and T&L staff. Mark, Nancy, and Scott shared the work of the smaller working team and provided us with the opportunity for feedback and direction as the team continues to prepare for the mandatory fall pilot of a model that must be in place for all by the 2013 school year.

This is a very complex project made more so by the fact that we have many years of experience with our Classroom 10 model that must be integrated into a state-mandated model that contains eight required fields. A second requirement is that the model be research based so the state has chosen three for districts to choose from. They are Charlotte Danielsons’s, Marzano’s, and the CEL model out of the University of Washington. You can see the frameworks for these on this TPEP site. If you go to Frequently Asked Questions on that site you will see that districts like ours who have a model will be allowed to ask for waivers.

3. Will there be a waiver process for districts that are currently using an alternative instructional framework? Districts that are currently using a different instructional framework (including modified versions of the three listed in this document) are encouraged to study the new criteria definitions and this alignment document. A state level waiver process for alternative frameworks will be developed at the conclusion of the pilot. This waiver process will require districts to demonstrate they are using a research--‐based instructional framework aligned to the eight Washington State teacher criteria (RCW 28A.405.100 2(b)) and definitions as the foundation of their teacher evaluation model.

So, we have our work cut out for us. We are using the CEL model and their research base to place our Classroom 10 components into the state’s eight fields. We then must come up with rubrics for each of the components before making decisions on how we can operationalize and effectively implement a very complex and labor intensive model. All of this is taking place with what was described today as the “heavy black cloud” hanging over the multiple bills in Olympia that could impact our work.

This post on the League for Education Voters blog linking to a Tacoma News Tribune editorial gives you a sense of the black cloud and issue that I described in this blog post. Because of a “revolt” in the Senate Education Committee the evaluation bills, one labeled as a reform bill and the other as a watered-down bill favored by education establishment types are still alive.

Revived with it was a watered-down “teacher evaluation” bill with few teeth; it is favored by K-12 establishment types who want to claim credit for a weak alternative that can be labeled as reform.

The real thing is Senate Bill 5896, which would make performance an overriding factor in hiring, firing, layoffs and transfers. Seniority has traditionally dictated these employment decisions, a policy that treats highly educated teachers much like factory workers.

SB 5896 is supported by people who want much more from our schools, including the League of Education Voters, Stand for Children and companies weary of barely literate job applicants.

Let’s be clear: The teaching profession is packed with effective educators who give their all to their students and deserve substantially more compensation. But they share the pay scales and job protections of ineffective teachers who belong in another honorable line of work.

Teaching in the public schools is as important as surgery – arguably more important. Real education reform will reward teachers like surgeons, on the basis of ability and results, not on how long they’ve been able to hang on to their jobs in a system that makes it almost impossible to fire them.

Given all of this, today we created a deeper understanding of our current reality and progress to date as well as what we must do to be ready for the fall pilot. We confirmed our focus for this work that is consistent with our beliefs; supporting individuals and teams of teachers in implementing the practices embedded in our Classroom 10 model. It was a good day filled with skillful discussion and sharing around what quality teaching every day, in every classroom, for every child looks and sounds like.

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