Monday, July 16, 2012

Evaluate This

In the ever-evolving world of Race to the Top, AKA the Gift That Keeps on Taking, the APPR (Annual Professional Performance Review) may have occupied more administrative-teacher time than any other obstacle. As this article indicates, fewer than 30 percent of districts met the July 1 deadline. Negotiations are sticky, because there's not much leeway involved. The state did cave somewhat in allowing a so-called "local" score to comprise 20 percent of the composite score for each teacher. Determining what that local score will entail has taken up a lot of time. Here's what the review will look like:

60%: Observations. These, of course, are largely subjective. At TST-BOCES, they will be based on the Danielson rubric, but other districts may use other rubrics—or none at all. Only certain people are allowed to evaluate through observation, and there must be a minimum of two observations per year, one of which may be announced ahead of time.

20%: State Score. Since TST-BOCES has very few classes in which state tests apply, most teachers there will be writing individual SLOs, student learning objectives, through which to measure their students' growth. In the districts, teachers who teach coursework that is not tested by the state will also need to write SLOs. Although there are some suggested directives for writing these SLOs, there is no clear across-the-board methodology or correlation. In theory, this assessment measures individual growth over time. A fourth-grader's scores from 2013 may be compared to that same child's scores from 2012 to see whether the child's year in Ms. K's class led to the expected growth. What that expected growth might be is something State Ed is apparently working out. With the exception of classes that have SLOs, this is the one segment of the APPR that might be considered quasi-objective and universally correlated—in other words, once State Ed works it out, growth G in Student A in District X will be equivalent to growth G in Student B in District Y.

20%: Local Score. Districts may buy existing tests or create their own. At TST-BOCES, there will be a mix. In theory, this assessment measures comparative achievement, although it is possible that it might also (or instead) measure growth over time.

A teacher who receives an overall composite score of 75, once all variables are compiled, is considered to be effective or highly effective. One who receives a score below 75 is considered to be developing or ineffective and thus in need of a TIP (Teacher Improvement Plan). Two ineffective scores over two consecutive years are grounds for dismissal, although there is an appeal process available.

Possibly the lone good thing about this plan is that it has forced unions and administration into serious talks about what constitutes a reasonable plan for evaluating teachers across the board. They all pretty much agree that this isn't it.

Worth noting: the amount of instructional time lost as teachers test students, grade tests, prepare SLOs, etc.

I should mention that there is a similar plan for evaluating principals.

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