OAKLAND, CA (May 22, 2014) – The Education Trust—West releases initial findings from a two-year study examining innovative teacher evaluation systems in a new report titled, Beyond Satisfactory: Redefining Teacher Support and Evaluation to Improve Teaching and Learning. The report reveals that teachers and administrators generally experience the evaluation process as an objective and constructive opportunity to reflect on and improve their instruction in order to best serve all students. These systems offer teachers support in ways that are connected with teachers’ deep desires to ensure their students will achieve at high levels. The report also highlights promising practices, and it offers recommendations for improving teacher evaluation and support in California.
“Our teacher evaluation system in California is broken. For far too long, teachers in our state haven’t been able to get the feedback or the supports they deserve,” said Dr. Jeannette LaFors, Director of Equity Initiatives at The Education Trust—West, a statewide education advocacy organization that works to close the opportunity and achievement gaps that separate students of color and low-income students from their more advantaged peers. “What was so interesting in our study was the extent to which teachers credited the measures and supports of their evaluation system as a way to increase their effectiveness in the classroom. They welcomed the opportunity to reflect on and improve their instruction.”
The study, which was designed to capture how teachers and school leaders across seven districts and charter school networks responded to initial efforts to build coherent evaluation and support systems, found that redesigning teacher evaluation and support is challenging, but rewarding. Teachers described getting more frequent and more meaningful feedback tied to clear expectations for effective teaching. They appreciated the use of multiple measures to inform their performance evaluation, in part because the process is designed to be objective and balanced. They also expressed appreciation for professional development that mutually benefits them and their students.
“What the findings in this study do is reflect what we hear from our teachers and principals. It offers evidence that California can build on the positive momentum being carried out in districts and leading charter organizations across the state towards meaningfully differentiating teachers’ performance and their professional development needs,” said James Gallagher, Director of Instruction at Aspire Public Schools, a charter school management organization participating in the study. “We encourage other school leaders to take this on.”
The findings of the study reveal promising practices and a set of recommendations that chart a course for improving teaching and learning. From making teacher evaluation and support work a top priority to accepting that it will take time to fine-tune, the recommendations developed in the report are offered to help other school and district leaders elevate their standards for teaching.
With over thirty states revamping their teacher evaluation systems, the report recommends California’s legislature take action to ensure that teachers get the feedback and support they need so that all students—including high-need students who have traditionally been denied access to the most effective teachers—get the teaching they need to succeed.
“There are several exciting examples of school systems in California that take teacher evaluation seriously and are forging a path for others to do the same,” said Sandi Jacobs, Vice-President and Managing Director of State Policy at the National Council for Teaching Quality. “State policymakers need to take action now to raise the bar for teacher effectiveness in California for the benefit of all teachers, and ultimately, the students they serve,” she concluded.
To read the full report, click here. To register and participate in The Education Trust—West’s upcoming webinar “Beyond Satisfactory: Redefining Teacher Evaluation and Support” on Wednesday, June 4, from 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m., click here. Webinar presenters will include school leaders from districts and CMOs featured in this report.
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About The Education Trust—West
The Education Trust—West works for the high academic achievement of all students at all levels, pre-k through college. We expose opportunity and achievement gaps that separate students of color and low-income students from other youth, and we identify and advocate for the strategies that will forever close those gaps.