Mary has just accepted a position with Baltimore County Public Schools as a Consulting Teacher. As a CT, Mary will be working with new teachers in 5 middle schools in her content area. She will be responsible for mentoring these new recruits through the tenure process for three years. Mary will be doing classroom observations, creating teacher development plans, and arranging and providing professional development opportunities for those on her case load.
Mary decides that the most fundamental knowledge each of the recruits needs for success is a thorough knowledge of the teacher evaluation system used by BCPS. The teacher evaluation system is designed to promote teacher growth and success. New teachers tend to feel intimidated by the process of observation, feeling that this may be a "gotcha" moment for department chairs and administrators. Mary hopes that understanding the purpose and process of the system will assuage the fears of her mentees.
The teachers on Mary's caseload come from various universities and includes two teachers from out of state. Since Mary is unsure about the background information that each new teacher has, she creates a handout for information about the process BCPS used in deciding how to best approach teacher evaluations for our school system.
Development of BCPS Evaluation System
Baltimore County Public Schools is a signatory of the Race To the Top grant application for the state of Maryland. BCPS receives approximately $17.3 million dollars in federal grants aimed at improving student achievement for all and closing achievement gaps. Because of this, BCPS has agreed to participate in Maryland State Dept. of Education (MSDE) Teacher and Principal Evaluation (TPE) system in order to ensure that all students in Baltimore County have access to effective teachers. The Education Reform Act of Maryland, passed in 2010, requires a student growth component in the evaluation system. MSDE and BCPS have agreed that teacher evaluation will be comprised of 50% qualitative and 50% quantitative measures.
A steering committee, comprised of all major stakeholders including teachers, administrators, and curriculum experts, was formed to study the problem and develop a new evaluation system that fulfilled the RTTT, MSDE, and Education Reform Acts requirements. This committee worked with focus groups of over 300 teachers from all curriculum areas during this process. The result of this committee is the evaluation currently used by BCPS.
The team decided that BCPS will use the Danielson model for the qualitative portion of the evaluation and will directly align with 5 key components 1) Planning and preparation, 2) Classroom Environment, 3) Instruction, 4) Professional Responsibilities, 5) Any area identified by BCPS. The team also decided that the quantitative portion of the evaluation would be measured by scores on standardized testing, specifically MAP scores, pre and post tests within curricula, student portfolios, and student learning outcomes (SLO).
Pilot schools were identified and the system was tested for 2 years prior to being fully implemented in 2014. Modifications were made to the original proposal and the system is constantly under review by the teachers’ union representatives and various other stakeholders. This system is designed to improve teacher quality and therefore, improve student growth and must change in order to meet the needs of all.
The team also recognized that professional development in understanding the system would be crucial for faculty and staff and still offers opportunities for all stakeholders to participate in these classes.
Source: Adapted from https://www.bcps.org/board/exhibits/2011/112211ExhibitM.PDF
The next step in helping the new teachers is to review the components of the BCPS system. The BCPS evaluation tool is directly adapted and aligned to the Danielson Framework. Mary prepared the following slideshow as a reference guide for the new teachers.
Mary's mentees were overwhelmed with all of the information in the slideshow and it only represented 50% of their evaluations.
Mary discussed with them how to use the Danielson framework to guide long term and daily planning. She also helped them to understand that by using this tool during reflection, instruction would improve and they would have a clear picture of areas in which they excel and those that need improvement. In most schools within BCPS, teachers are encouraged to develop their own Professional Development plan that is dependent on individual teacher needs. Mary explained that self reflection and receiving feedback from others would help them to coordinate with the STAT teacher in their school about workshops, readings and/or other resources to help them reach their maximum potential. And as a bonus, doing these things are included on the tool!
Mary went on to explain that success in the qualitative portion of the evaluation would directly lead to success on the quantitative portion. The qualitative framework is the guideline for what to do and the quantitative portion displays the results of quality instruction.
Below is an explanation of the data that teachers in BCPS use to provide evidence of quality instruction.
The new teachers still had many questions about this evaluation process. The expectations and the measurement were clear, but the method was not.
Raymond asked, "How often will I be observed?"Will I know in advance?
Jesse wanted to know, "Who will be observing me?"
Katrina wondered, "How do I prepare for an observation?"
Mary explained that TABCO (Teachers Association of Baltimore County) had negotiated all of those details. Observations for new teachers are conducted 2 times per semester with reasonable notice AND separation between observations.
The observation team is a site based decision but includes at least one administrator. Others may be department chairs, team leaders, resource teachers. Consulting teachers are not a part of the evaluation/observation team, but play a vital role in preparation.
Mary tried to explain to the new teachers that an observation lesson plan should not be outside of the norm for the teacher or the student. There should be new learning for the students, but not new procedures. Preparing for the observation should begin with reflection on previous lessons and then selecting a pedagogy that has been successful. She explained that teachers have opportunity for a pre-observation conference with an observer to discuss the lesson and receive feedback. The evaluation tool should be the guiding principal in designing the lesson, showcasing the strengths of the teacher, and showing growth in areas that need improvement. Mary stressed that the document is to be used to show progress for teachers and students. It is not a "punchlist" that can be completed during one 30 minute classroom observation. During the post-observation, there should be a conversation about elements on the tool that were not observed and a plan should be developed for the teacher to show improvement for the next time.
Mary worked on the process of helping the new teachers write their professional growth goals and plan and gave them information on professional development opportunities available both on-line and in person and made sure each one had connected with the STAT teacher in the building who is responsible for professional development and Learning Communities. She explained that the STAT teacher could arrange Learning Walks for them to observe other teachers and for other teachers to observe them and give feedback. Mary showed them the extensive Professional Development Catalog for workshops and classes that are help throughout the year. She explained that Department Chairs hold Professional Learning Community Book Study groups and that she as Consulting Teacher would be available to them and would be providing feedback and information regularly. She was confident that the new teachers felt more at ease with the teacher evaluation process.