For the first time in Delaware, all teachers will be evaluated this year in part by the performance of their students. It is a process that has created some anxiety for teachers because it is still under development and results are hard to predict.
Teachers are evaluated on 4 components for which they are determined satisfactory or not:
1. Planning and Preparation
2. Classroom Environment
4. Professional Responsibilities
Component 5 is student performance. Everybody has some measure of student performance for which they are responsible and which will have an impact on their work evaluation. If you teach a subject that is tested by the state test (DCAS), then you are partly evaluated on what percentage of your students hit their target score at the end of the year. If you teach a non-DCAS tested subject, then you use an evaluation approved by the state and developed by state teachers. Generally a pre- and post- test on that particularly subject. Other measures may be included and counted toward the final score.
Because the state was slow in developing and finalizing procedures, many teachers are being rated based upon a pre-test that was administered in November or December. If student growth is in question I’m sure most would have rather given their pre-test in September. Never-the-less, everybody from the school nurse to the superintendent will have a student performance measure included in his end of year evaluation this May or June.
Finally, and perhaps what makes many teachers nervous, is that the Component 5 measure out-weighs the first four components. One could be rated satisfactory in the first four components based upon the principal observation and evaluation of the teacher’s performance throughout the school year. But, the teacher may not hit the targets on student performance, which could result in an overall “needs improvement” rating.
The past 2 weeks I’ve been sitting in on some conferences between principals and teachers as they discuss the results. For the most part, the result is a very a valuable conversation with regard to expectations both for students and for teachers. The vast majority of our teachers are meeting and exceeding student growth targets which results in a final rating of effective or highly effective.
I can’t help but think, that after a few years to modify and become accustomed to the process, that student performance will benefit. I believe teachers will become more confident in their abilities to move students forward and challenge them with more rigorous content.