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The Need for Effective Teacher Evaluation Systems

The Need for Effective Teacher Evaluation Systems

Author: Mary Larichiuta
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Where to Begin?

Maria has been chosen by her principal to represent the school on a steering committee to revise the district's evaluation process. There have been concerns about the equity of using one evaluation system for an extremely large school district that has various socioeconomic groups, diversity of learners, and disparity in the allocation of resources among schools. 

Maria's task will be to analyze models of Evaluation systems in order to propose an effective device for her system that will help strengthen knowledge, skills, and practices of teachers in her district.

Danielson vs Marzano

Maria decided to create a slideshow to present to the committee comparing two widely used evaluation systems.

Below is her presentation

Danielson and Marzano

After Maria's presentation, her colleagues had many questions and comments. Tom remarked, "There seem to be many areas of agreement between these two models for teacher effectiveness. Both agree on planning and preparation, actions in the classroom, professionalism, and reflection." 

Kathy agreed with Tom, but had concerns. "This information doesn't address the diversity of our school district. AND what evidence do we have that these models meet national and state and local standards. We need more information before we can move any further."

What is Required?

What about Preparing Our 21st Learner? Where's ISTE in this?

Larry wasn't completely satisfied with any of this information. He is a digital age enthusiast and didn't see how any of this would propel the district forward. Larry wanted to be certain that all committee members were aware of ISTE standards and that they would be incorporated into any new evaluation framework. 

Committee members were concerned. The socioeconomic diversity within this system is broad. Many students do not have access to internet or home computers. How can the system incorporate ISTE as a requirement for teachers when the resources to do so may not be available?

Let's look at those standards.

Larry referred the group to ISTE Standards for their perusal. The recommendation that all teachers meet these performance indicators caused concern.

All agreed that these indicators are valuable for increasing student achievement and engagement, but would it be equitable to hold ALL teachers to these standards when some schools are struggling with computer resources? What about the children who don't have support and resources at home? How can we hold all accountable when materials are not available?

Another Viewpoint from American Federation of Teachers

So Where Do We Go from Here?

After gathering all of this evidence, the committee took some time to reflect and agreed upon the following recommendations:

The goal and outcome of a teacher evaluation system is to develop highly effective teachers in order to improve student achievement.Therefore,

1) The evaluation system must include standards for teacher practices and student achievement data.

2) Standards in the evaluation system should align to the four domains outlined by both Marzano and Danielson. However, elements should be included within the new system to include ISTE standards.

3) The evaluation system should provide ample opportunity for reflection and improvement. It should be be used as a punitive ratings system, but rather a tool for communication of performance based on the agreed standards.

4) Professional context should be considered by the evaluator. The system should NOT be a "punch list" of look fors during an observation. It will be the duty and the responsibility of the evaluators to consider climate, physical conditions, and access to resources.

This goal and outcome requires a hybrid of systems to be created as neither Marzano or Danielson completely fit this model. The Marzano evaluation tool is meant to be a check list and, with 60 elements, is too cumbersome to be practical for evaluators or educators. The Danielson Framework is more straightforward and user friendly, but it does not specify the ISTE standards. The framework suggests using resources including technology, but does not require the digital citizenry piece, which is vital for 21st century learners. Lastly, teachers need more voice in this process. Teachers helping teachers is the best resource and teacher peers should be included on an evaluation team as recommended by AFT.

With all of these supports in place, teachers will be empowered to improve the art and science of teaching. The Danielson Framework and Marzano system stress the importance of professional community and continuous reflection, specifically, reflection with action. By using these tools as a constant reminder of standards and expectations, teachers will be able to direct themselves toward highly effective teaching and improved student achievement. This system, when applied without punitive context, will develop a stronger teaching community in any school system.