I attended the Symposium on Educator Effectiveness and Educator Evaluation held at Dallas Baptist University on December 2, 2013. The state of Texas WILL be adopting a new teacher evaluation system in the near future, as a condition of the U.S. Department of Education granting a waiver to the state of some of the elements of No Child Left Behind. The new evaluation program will be developed during 2013-14, piloted in 2014-15, and deployed in 2015-16.
I was a bit apprehensive going into the meeting, fearing that we would be “told” what the new appraisal system will look like. To my relief, the meeting was one designed to offer in-the-field educators the opportunity to provide input to the Texas Education Agency with regard to what the next appraisal system should look like.
During the course of the day we heard students describe what they thought made for an “effective” teacher. We heard a panel of teachers discuss the good and bad components of the current Professional Development and Appraisal System (PDAS) and share their thoughts on what a new model can/should look like.
A panel of principals discussed elements they thought should be included in a new model, that would, in their opinion, result in a more powerful and useful version. A panel of superintendents also spoke their opinions along the same lines. As well, Texas Commissioner of Education Michael Williams spoke to the challenges and opportunities presented in the development of a new model of teacher appraisal.
Based on my interpretation of the conversations had and perspectives offered during this meeting, my sense of some of the positive things we may see in the new version of Texas teacher appraisal follow:
- A model based on growth rather than compliance.
- A model that could very well include some form of student feedback.
- A model that will entail an ongoing type of evaluation (rather than once-a-year).
- A model that will incorporate student “growth” rather than student performance on high stakes tests only.
- A model that incentivizes continuous improvement rather than ranking/rating of teachers.
- A model premised on collaborative reflection on best practices and teacher learning/growth between and among teachers, administrators, teacher coaches, and other relevant educational professionals.
- A model that may actually include an element that references the “soft data” kinds of affective elements of the profession (i.e., teacher-student relationships, collegiality, collaboration, contextual awareness and responsiveness, etc.).
Sure hoping I didn’t misread this meeting. All those things could really make for a more powerful, more useful, and more meaningful method of ensuring that we, as a profession of educators, can skip the dog-and-pony shows and redirect our efforts toward making for the very best futures for the 5,000,000 students of Texas.