Sunday, October 6, 2013

Maintaining a growth focus . . .

In conversations last week with colleagues in our system and in other systems it was driven home for me once again how difficult it is to maintain a focus on teacher growth in the new, mandated evaluation model.  Using the inquiry cycle to focus on a growth goal assists in this, but as I learned the temptation to code and assign value during the cycle's observations is great.  We our asking our administrators to hold off on assigning a value such as basic or proficient until late in the cycle while some in other systems are supportive of assigning a value at the time of the observation.

Why is assigning a value during each observation an issue related to a growth focus.  I believe that once we begin to assign values, we start the process of shifting our mental model from one of supporting growth on a specific targeted area to making decisions that may shift us away from this narrow target.  It is difficult because the evaluator knows that at some point he/she will be forced to make a summative judgment and must have adequate data to make those decisions.  This makes it more difficult to delay assigning value and collecting and coding data beyond the narrow goal focus.

Why is it so difficult to maintain a growth focus?  I believe it is due to the main purpose of TPEP  being evaluation.  It was driven by forces outside the state and local district to meet requirements by the federal education department to qualify for a waiver from the outdated and unsupportable NCLB sanctions.  It angers me that the federal education department has gained considerable power over state and local decisions because the elected policy makers at the federal level cannot reach agreement on a NCLB replacement.

Given this current reality, we had a focus on growth before NCLB, during NCLB, and are committed to maintaining that focus during the NCLB waiver era.  How long we can continue this focus will partly be determined by our state legislature in the upcoming session as they grapple with the possibility of losing the state's waiver without significant changes to the use of student achievement data in the teacher evaluation process.

No comments: