Thursday, February 14, 2013

Recommendations for support fall short . . .

In 2012 the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) supported by the Washington Teacher/Principal Evaluation Project (WA TPEP) steering committee, and the Education Service Districts (ESDs) commissioned the American Institutes for Research (AIR) to study the readiness, needs, expectations, and concerns of all educators in the state as they relate to implementation of the Teacher Principal Evaluation Plan and Common Core State Standards.  As I have shared, these are two major changes that are causing anxiety in our system and that are beginning to consume much of our time and other resources related to professional development.

On the TPEP web page, I found a link to the Institutes's fifty-nine page report.  The findings are based on an invitation in the fall of 2012 to teachers, principals, superintendents, and school directors to complete a brief survey about their district’s educator evaluation system and Common Core State Standards implementation. A total of 15,793 (26.2 percent) of the 60,251 possible K–12 educators in the state completed the survey.

Though I haven't had a chance to review in detail, two things jumped out at me, one in the common core and one in the evaluation findings.  The first is shown below by the response from the participants that, given current structures, finding the time to implement the new evaluation model is the most common concern.  This would be consistent from what we are learning from our principals and those teachers that have been involved in training thus far.  What I find interesting is the large percentage of principals and superintendents who do not see this as the major concern.  Though I have many other areas of concern such as rater reliability, in our current reality time may be the most difficult barrier to overcome for many of our building administrators

Related to the Common Core implementation is this finding where at least 30% of teachers, principals, and school directors do not have any major worries at the time of the survey.  I wonder if that result is driven by a lack of knowledge and understanding of the instructional practice and assessment requirements embedded in the shift to the Common Core.  I also need to check what "Other" worries were identified by 35% of the superintendents who responded.
The Institute also made four recommendations to guide OSPI in balancing the high demand with high support.  Unfortunately, I find the recommendations far from sufficient to support implementation of these two important mandates.  We need resources that free principals up to do the work and/or increased staffing to meet the demands of the evaluation model.  We need curriculum and assessment resources and alignment support to meet the demands of the Common Core.  Opportunities to learn, communication plans and strategies, and training plans fall short of providing the high support that these mandated initiatives require for effective and efficient implementation that results in increased student achievement.

 Provide opportunities and resources for districts to learn from the TPEP pilot districts.
 Provide strategic support around communication plans, and assist districts in selecting appropriate instructional and leadership frameworks.
 Provide coordinated support and resources to districts to assist them in their efforts to provide district wide training for their teachers and principals on their new evaluation systems.
 Provide specific help to districts in their efforts to develop a clear message about how they will address educator concerns around time concerns, feasibility of implementation, fairness, and training needs.

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