Design of State Evaluation Strategies
When state education agencies (SEAs) rolled out evaluation models, the primary objective was to ensure that teachers were observed more regularly and received instructional feedback more often. Laying this foundation has allowed SEAs to focus on improving the quality of feedback and on aligning feedback with professional learning strategies.
The use of student growth measures has generated contentious debates, especially when the measures derive from standardized assessment results. Many SEAs have invested significant resources in developing these measures, but they often lack widespread support from educators. Emphasizing student learning objectives and professional growth goals could emphasize the importance of reflective teaching.
SREB and state research has found that many educators value the opportunity to self-reflect during the evaluation process. Self-assessments using evaluation data could reinforce effective teaching—setting learning goals, assessing student progress and making instructional tweaks to drive achievement.
- Emphasize post-observation feedback and self-assessment.
- Reconsider how student impact measures fit into the state evaluation model.
- Prioritize the use of evaluation data to inform instructional changes.
Implementation of District Systems
State implementation reports pinpoint evaluators as a key element of the evaluation and feedback system. They affect how teachers perceive the system and its intended benefits. Every SREB state requires that evaluators receive training. Now, states should focus on improving the frequency and quality of training. In particular, states should consider how to offer follow-up training and resources that allow evaluators to learn at their convenience.
States can achieve the goal of high-quality training by recognizing their resource and strategic limitations. External stakeholders could increase the capacity of local implementers by providing training and learning resources. As strategic communicators, these stakeholders could provide a valuable perspective for practitioners, who may not have a direct communication channel with state departments.
SEAs should consider resource constraints when they develop their technical assistance strategies. For instance, states could deploy technical support when requested by districts, or when the evaluation and student achievement data surface specific needs. Providing tiered support could also accomplish the dual interests of providing a minimum level of support, while identifying interventions that could improve outcomes in more challenging settings.
- Deliver evaluator training that focuses on teacher feedback and includes rating exercises.
- Strengthen state and district capacity by forging partnerships with interested stakeholders.
- Allow districts to innovate and experiment within the broader state evaluation framework.
- Deliver technical assistance support based on district needs.
Monitoring Change and Transforming Educator Effectiveness
A policy scan found that 10 SREB states monitor the implementation of district evaluation systems. These states employ internal data analysts and external contractors to monitor implementation. Monitoring efforts are resource intensive, and states should prioritize data collection and analysis based on what they want to learn. SEA leaders have used teacher-level evaluation results, educator surveys and focus groups to answer questions related to implementation progress, educator attitudes and beliefs, and conditions for success.
While state-level data show implementation is uneven, SREB and state studies have found unique cases of early district success. SEAs could identify the places and conditions where the system is working well. Spotlighting school and district success could also inspire local implementers to adopt professional learning strategies that make educator feedback and support a more collaborative activity. Through this process, schools and districts can make feedback and support a generative, school-wide activity that accelerates teaching effectiveness.
- Develop formal communication channels to receive feedback from teachers and principals.
- Recognize districts that have implemented innovative feedback and support strategies.
- Monitor state implementation to identify districts that could benefit from more intensive support.