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Friday, May 27, 2011

Teacher Assessments

By request by a reader:

Indeed, today I met a teacher friend that theoretically now confirms 3 local districts supposedly practicing the technique of giving negative evaluations to older (read "non-reform" and/or expensive) teachers to help force them out as a combo cost-saving/pro-reform move.

What I am hearing is that while some schools are not having RIFs, many first-year teachers are not getting their contracts renewed.  (If they get an unsatisfactory in just one area, they're out.)  I have also heard that the teacher assessments are having a rough first implementation with some older teachers only getting one visit to review their performance and even stellar teachers are getting an "overall proficient" rating.  

Teachers?

Parents, ask at your school about RIFs.  I'd like to develop a list of them.

34 comments:

Maureen said...

No RIFs at TOPS.

Also, our projected enrollment is lower than our current enrollment, but nowhere near as low as last year's projection (and came in above the magic 500 cut off, so we didn't lose staff that way this year).

mirmac1 said...

No RIFS at Lafayette

Our projected enrollment (already busting at the seams) is growing from 535 to 554.

Andrew Davidson said...

Just to clarify the evaluation process for first-year teachers in SPS, here are some details.

I am a first-year teacher in the district, so have just been through this process.

(There are other evaluation systems also in place, but all new teachers to SPS this year are under the scheme described below.)

The system is based on something known as the Danielson Framework, after its author, Charlotte Danielson.

There are four domains in which you are evaluated:
- Planning and Preparation
- Classroom Environment
- Instruction
- Professional Responsibility

Each of these four domains has 5 or 6 components to it. In each component, you are rated Innovative, Proficient, Basic, or Unsatisfactory.

A rating of Unsatisfactory on any component within a domain results in an overall rating of Unsatisfactory in that domain.

To be Proficient in a domain, you must be rated Proficient (or better) in at least four components and Basic in the others.

To be Innovative in a domain, you must be Innovative in at least four components and Proficient in the others.

In your first year, satisfactory performance means you have to be Proficient in Classroom Environment and Basic or above in all other domains.

All of this is spelled out in the CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) and contracts.

lurker said...

My child's teacher was given a bad evaluation. She's a 20 year vereran, active in the union, outspoken, great with kids, and has every kid reading by the end of 1st grade. She's kind of awkward with adults, and rubs a lot of people the wrong way. It smells fishy to me.

Salander said...

I am a teacher who for 23 years has recieved positive evaluations. Yesterday I received an unsatisfactory.

Oddly, the areas in which I received negative comments were the exact areas in which, during my observations I received positive comments. The areas listed as strengths are areas now listed as weaknesses.

I knew this was coming. There have been reports of massive actions against senior teachers for the entire school year.

The principal had given me a list of things that I need to improve--most of which I have always done such as posting on the Source every day. Then there is turning on all the lights when I am finished using the projector.

Strangly this list appeared after I told him I thought it was inappropriate during "walkthroughs" for administrators from other schools to ask my stuudents what they thought of me as a teacher. I'm not afraid of their feedback. Students and parenst alike give me all of the positve I earn out of teaching. I just think it is wrong to ask one person what they think of another.

Andrew Davidson does not point out that in District training principals are informed that two of the four domans of Danielson are not observable. Also, Danielson is a reformer who sells canned package evaluation systems to districts.

Not Perfect said...

As has been said recently in this blog, the SEA needs to get out in front of this evaluation thing and make it work for their members - not just diss the whole idea. Don't any members of the SEA feel that there is a need to clean up their ranks, just a little? Are all teachers really excellent at their job?

WenD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric M said...

Having opted in to the 4-tier P,G, &E process this year and completed my evaluation, I know some things (these are not just my thing, but a report of building-wide experiences):
a) The administrator that oversees a teacher's evaluation may range from disinterested to hyper-interested. Either way, you didn't get much more observed time in the classroom than previously.
b) You're almost certainly proficient, but almost certainly not innovative. Even if you did all kinds of ridiculous extra things and worked 70 hours a week.
c) It's negative and morale-busting, and people want to leave and never come back. Or do a lot less next year, since it doesn't seem to count or matter.

What we don't know (and we plan to meet next week to compare notes in a more detailed way.)
a) To what extent did favoritism influence the evaluation?
b) Did anyone get an A (innovative)? Can anyone get an A?
c) Did anyone get any actual help in improving their teaching in return for the extra work?

WenD said...

@Not Perfect:

Did you read Salander's post?
"Oddly, the areas in which I received negative comments were the exact areas in which, during my observations I received positive comments. The areas listed as strengths are areas now listed as weaknesses."

RE: SEA and other unions, my only question is what recourse Salander has against an unfair, even retaliatory, rating. How will SEA represent teachers in this situation? Are you conflating a plan to intentionally give poor rating with "cleaning up their ranks?" The only reason I see for SEA to be out in front is to protect their members from the kind of housecleaning that paves the way for TFA.

Did you read the other posts in this thread or are you going to continue flogging your meme?

Anonymous said...

Let us not forget Eric Pettigrew introduced a house bill to use evaluation rather than seniority as the basis for RIFs.

Sen. McAuliffe stated flat out that at this time there was no way to effectively measure teacher effectiveness. Looks like the SPS is out to:
(1) Prove Rosemary McAuliffe correct.
(2) Side with the Pettigrew plan .. even though it makes no sense.

----------
The district sees no need to assist students that are struggling and in need of interventions ... having just neutered the Promotion/ Non-promotion policy makes that really clear.......

So why would anyone be thinking the SPS had a plan to actually improve instruction?

It is all just a massive power spin play. Crappy instructional materials are adopted by rejecting evidence.

Decisions are made based on power NOT reason.

Clear out the teachers that appear to be adversarial to the admin power grab .... as the Admin has the power to clear 'em out now.

The SEA Union has been a near total joke for quite some time. The WEA were big boosters of 6696 and all the reforms in the Race to the Top & Common Core Standards adoption.

Note, the CCSS cost to districts state wide is 165 Million Dollars over 5 years.... that is equivalent to spending on 330+ teachers per year over each of the five years. Washington has large class sizes and apparently WEA union leadership with little interest in its members.

So what did the Union get in return for funding shifted from local school district budgets to CCSS adoption costs? 330+ fewer teachers or less funding for schools and interventions for students.

How is that in WEA members best interests? How is that in Students best interests?

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Reading some of the previous posts, sounds like teachers need to replace their SEA contract reps. Who negotiated the Danielson eval if it's canned and ineffective. Teachers, hire some labor lawyers who really know their HR stuff. You guys are spending too much for this nonsense.

- a union gal

CT said...

It’s not just SEA leadership. WEA union leadership pretty much sucks these days. ML does not see the big picture, nor does she have the foresight to recognize potential issues, like the Common Core. I asked multiple times if WEA had a stance on the Common Core and the SBAC way back when. All I got in response was......well, I’m still waiting. In California, their department of education is already championing the tests being created by the SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) as a means to evaluate teachers. Thus teachers there will be forced to teach to the Common Core because the SBAC test is based off the Common Core, and their proficiency as a teacher will be determined by that test score. And of course, the WA State PTSA thinks the Common Core is the next best thing since sliced bread because every kid will be learning the exact same thing at the exact same time.....

someone said...

Confirmation on MGJ applying in Florida
http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook/content/search-firm-florida-board-education-extend-deadline

Seattle Sped Teacher said...

I am a veteran teacher. I am at step 12 on the level of the payscale (one step below PhD) I am very expensive for the district to keep.

I am a special ed teacher so I am not on PG&E - they haven't set it up for specialists yet although I am sure I would not have opted in as our principal advised people who have a choice to not opt in yet - wait until they iron out the bugs.

All that being said, my evaluation this year was Satisfactory (old system) but I was told that had i been on PG&E, I would have been innovative in all four domains.

It's not that hard, really. I plan my lessons well, I differentiate in my classroom as well as in the gen ed classrooms where I co-teach, I have taken leadership roles in my building and am always working to improve my practice to meet ever changing needs of students, there is mutual respect in my classroom between my students and myself, and I have a good relationship with the 12! gen ed teachers I have to work with on a daily basis.

I work in A LOT of gen ed classrooms. Many "good" teachers are disrespectful of their students - they are inappropriately sarcastic and dismissive of challenging children. I am so tired of the whining and complaining. We do need to be held to higher standards. We need to be evaluated by supervisors who actually know what they are doing and who have BEEN IN CLASSROOMS all year (I am lucky as i have an administrator like that), and we need to challenge ourselves to improve. Some of the veteran teachers in our building have been teaching the same curriculum for 20 years. The kids do the same projects year in and year out. This is not necessarily good for kids. The population in our schools have changed a lot in 20 years and we have to keep up.

I actually like the Danielson framework. It gives me good things to think about while I plan my lessons. I agree with others who think it is totally unacceptable that they are evaluated based on one observation by an incompetent principal.

dan dempsey said...

Hyperlink to MGJ application to be Commissioner of Education in Florida =>
MGJ hopes to win lottery in Florida

Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat.

Anonymous said...

@Sp Ed teacher

I'm glad you work for a fair, decent principal (which was obvious by the advice given regarding assessments).

Your self assessment and the one you might have received by many other principals (given the wealth of evidence in this thread) may have surprised you.

I would also like to see what an observer might notice if you were in a classroom with 28 first graders all day and essentially no help.

Your admitted group of 12 (which you don't have together and only for short periods time) makes for very pleasant relationships, I'm sure.

Living in a Bubble

Anonymous said...

The "Danielson Model" sounds like a great rubric for a third grade diorama or poster project.

However, it is an absurd method for evaluating a teacher.

The highest level should be Effective--because a teacher is either effective or "innovative" means nothing. Same with the other categories.

Bubble

Anonymous said...

I don't have a final copy of the evaluation forms, but if someone could get it to the blog I think it'd be worthwhile. I found the process to have contradictory information in it, and many of the "innovative" rankings are at odds with other policies/practices at schools, such as RTI. I saw the whole thing from the beginning as a catch-22, but that was supposedly while it was still in draft form, but during all of the propaganda "training" meetings about it.

Former teacher

Seattle Sped Teacher said...

Anonymous at 5:44

You misread. I don't serve 12 kids. I actually have 28 on my caseload. I have to work and interact with 12 different teachers on a daily basis. I work with groups of 16-18 children at a time who ALL have disabilities and they span 3 grades. I don't have an IA. Also, i teach in gen ed classrooms. I was also a gen ed teacher for years before i became a special ed teacher. I don't actually live in a bubble. My job is certainly not any easier than a gen ed job- not necessarily harder either, just different. My biggest issue is the general lack of respect in some gen ed classrooms towards all students. And the unwillingness to allow our practices to evolve. "But we have always done it this way" is not a very good excuse when we notuce that 1/3 of our 4th graders are reading below grade level. People are unwilling to change.

Jennifer said...

Living in a Bubble,

I have 28 1st grade students in my class and NO additional help. I too plan my lessons well, I differentiate in my classroom and work with other gen-ed teacher in my building. I too have taken leadership roles in my building and work to improve my practice to meet ever changing needs of students. I'm not going to pretend that its easy, I work my a** off and can at times put in 60+ hour weeks. It is possible, not easy, but possible. I have yet to be rated by my principal but I am looking forward to getting some feedback, even if its negative at least it will be feedback. I can use it or ignore it. Despite the fact that I don't have a fair and unbiased administrator (or trained in assessing teachers) reviewing me at least it shows that they have spent a bit of time in my classroom, finding out how and what I teach. The idea of having administrators in classrooms getting first hand knowledge of what teacher are doing seems to be a new concept to SPS. Its something that we have long needed. Teachers all over the county are fearful for their jobs, education is in the toilet right now, no money and lots of kids who need more support, not less. The assessment of teachers is something that needs to be done, desperately, not to get rid of experienced teachers, but the ones who suck and give us all a bad name. In every building there is a teacher or two who are known to be doing a disservice to children and the profession. Having people out in classrooms observing teachers teach is, in my humble opinion a far better strategy then using ONE flawed test score to asses our effectiveness!

-Abby G.

Anonymous said...

To the 2 teachers who have recently contributed: Thanks for sharing your insights. You both sound like level-headed, respectful and open-minded people and I hope that you will continue to submit to this blog. Thanks for your service to our kids.

Grateful Parent

Anonymous said...

Thank you Abbey G and SeattleSped Teacher. Thank you for taking on challenges, collaborating with your colleagues, seeking feedback, and looking to improve your practices. That is really what evaluation is about. Too bad there are some teachers like "Living in a Bubble" who think that teaching 28 kids is just a way-over-the-top responsibility for the job of "teacher". Unfortunately, that is the job. It's hard. And it isn't for everyone.

If Bubble were paying attention, he/she would already know that: No, special education teachers don't have caseloads of 12, where they sit around most of the time, teaching a couple of happy go lucky students in some sort of utopian shangri-la. There are indeed some special education programs that have 8 or 9 or 10 kids. But those programs have our most challenging students with the most severe behavioral disorders or autism. The district is doing it's best to get rid of those particular special education teachers and programs. What will Bubble think and do when those particular students are now in his/her classroom, and there's no SeattleSped Teacher available? If you don't like your evaluation now, think about how it will be without that support? Bubble doesn't seem to know about the support that is already serving her/him and likely in another building. If those programs are gone, then those students will be in all buildings, and without support.

Seattle Sped Parent

Anonymous said...

By the way SeattleSped Teacher, I hope you are compensated for your overloads, each and every one. I believe you probably have 6 extra students. You should contact your union representative if not, and then fill out the paperwork to get pay for overloads. The idea that we can just dump more students with disabilities, endlessly, on a single teacher is something that needs to stop. The way to get it to stop, is to ask the for the pay that you have bargained for in the CBA. (And keep asking until you get it.)

SeattleSped Parent

Seattle Sped Teacher said...

Seattle Sped Parent,

Yes, every year I get paid for my overage. Every year I ask for an IA or more SpEd teacher time. I never get it - so in June they have to pony up the money. Again, I have an incredibly supportive principal who makes sure I remember to send in the forms. Every year I think the district might clue in and increase our SpEd FTE to really save themselves a lot of money...but they don't. The mismanagement is amazing.

Thanks for checking, Sped Parent. I appreciate your support.

Anonymous said...

Seattle Sped Parent - good thing there is people like you who KNOW what other people's lives are like.

Sped Teacher brought up some good points - teachers using the same materials for 20 years without updating? hello!

Sped Teacher made some comments about "sarcasm" - in my years of being a real live teacher in high school I've seen the "sarcasm" label attached to anything and everything which does NOT fit in with talking like a 4 or 5 year old while watching Big Bird. Big Bird is great for little kids - the education bureaucracy's tendency to treat teenagers like 4 and 5 year olds is childish, but, that is what they do, and that is what they defend by attacking people living in the adult world.

Sped Teacher also implied that Sped Teacher's experiences applied across a greater range of reality than what Sped Teacher has experienced. From what Sped Teacher has described I think Sped Teacher is living in a different reality - and if Sped Teacher thinks his/her reality applies or should apply, it is a bubble - it sure isn't my reality.

Sped Teacher or any teacher would be better served describing their feelings / observations / ruminations as their own personal thing - not dumping it on the rest of us.

To me, the Danielson model is a bunch of vague touchy feely crap. To me, it won't get close to solving the real problem of having fair assessments so we can get better or get gone - except by accident. To me, it will be good for the typical not so great administrator to label his/her toadies as innovative, and to label the non toadies poorly.

I hope that I'm wrong - and given the track record of voting for HOPE, AK in '92 and for hope in 2008, hope is a losing bet.

-- finally - the WEA SEA is supposed to be collecting data on who is probation whatever - I saw it on a bulletin board? in the Unity? in an email? Who knows what is happening - it isn't like is it possible to just post stuff to an information web page so that everyone knows what is going on.

Sarcastic Sesame Street

Salander said...

Sesame-

I agree with the content of your post.

I have thought seriously about creating a blog for Seattle teachers for reporting of what is going on.

The problem is assessing the level of retaliation I would be subject to.

Salander said...

http://seattleareateachers.blogspot.com/

Here is the blog I have just created for Seattle area teachers.

All are welcome to comment.

Anonymous said...

Gee Sesame, I wonder if the Danielson model rates communication skills or the ability to string 4 coherent paragraphs together. Clearly, it should. I hope our bubbles don't wind up intersecting.

Lurker

Anonymous said...

yo lurker - since it doesn't matter what we say, we'll be attacked,

and since we already have a 45 /50+++ hour a week job which requires all our concentration,

guess how much I care about your snotty comments about BLOG comments from busy people?

I have a hunch that what really isn't coherent about 4 or 3 paragraphs for you is that they paragraphs don't sing from your songbook. You could look past some off the top of the head writing gaffes missed during "editing" - editing with these little blog windows to write in - but it is more fun to make snotty comments, isn't it?

Biz-zee

Anonymous said...

"... is that they paragraphs don't sing from your songbook."

gosh - "... is that the paragraphs don't sing from your songbook."

funny how the gaffes don't show up until you take the sheet of paper out of the typewriter.

Biz-zee again.

Andrew Davidson said...

As another teacher working in SPS, I'd like to add my thoughts about the evaluation process. (Once again, I'm a first-year teacher, so factor my innocence in to this.)

Like SPED teacher and Abby G, I found the Danielson Framework to be reasonable and relevant to helping me assess my own practice. The categories seem appropriate, if not perfect, and the detailed rubrics associated with each component made sense to me. The self-reflection part of the evaluation process was very valuable also.

(I’d like to add a huge note of appreciation and respect here for all SPED teachers, since I had classes with a number of SPED students in them. That just adds a whole layer of complexity onto the normal pedagogical challenges, and the amount of support that SPS provides for all students is just incredible.)

Although I am in my first year as a high school teacher, I am in my late fifties and so I am not new to evaluations, having had them in every job I’ve ever had. I have also been a college professor and administrator, so I have some experience with both sides of the teacher evaluation process.

I did have two formal observations in my classroom by my administrators, and received useful informal as well as formal feedback on those sessions. I also had many other visits to my classroom during the year by various administrators, both scheduled and unannounced.

At first the impromptu ones completely freaked me out. As a new teacher, I am constantly aware of the classroom dynamics and trying to make good use of all of the instructional time available. And even if I had a really well-planned lesson (and let’s be honest, that isn’t always the case, I imagine even for experienced teachers), things always happen, so that some days aren’t perfect. I really worried about people seeing my flaws as a teacher.

But the truth is that one needs to be open to constructive criticism in order to improve and, although it is nerve-wracking, I learned more from the observations on days when things didn’t go perfectly than from days when I thought I had done a good job.

The key to this is the administrators and evaluators, of course. Mine were careful to make me feel comfortable with the process, emphasizing that it is not a “gotcha” contest where they are trying to catch me making mistakes. The purpose is to help me improve my teaching.

Once I internalized that, I felt much safer with having people just pop in for a few minutes to see what was going on. OK, I admit that on the day when my principal moseyed in, I was elated that the students were on-task instead of bouncing off the walls. But I did have one lesson completely bomb when I was being observed. And while I felt destroyed at my failure, the debriefing session after was probably the most valuable day of the year for me.

Any evaluation system is subject to abuse, of course. I feel very lucky that those responsible for mine take it seriously and use it the way it should be used — to give constructive feedback to help me become a better teacher.

Teaching is without a doubt the hardest job I have ever had. It is enormously more complex and grueling than it seems from the outside. And no amount of reading, study, philosophizing, training, student teaching, or observing can substitute for having to stand up in front of a group of students five days a week, five times a day, and try to educate and inspire them.

Anonymous said...

Actually Bizee,

With comments like this, who the heck can figure out what this person is saying?

Sped Teacher also implied that Sped Teacher's experiences applied across a greater range of reality than what Sped Teacher has experienced. From what Sped Teacher has described I think Sped Teacher is living in a different reality - and if Sped Teacher thinks his/her reality applies or should apply, it is a bubble - it sure isn't my reality.

????

That simply makes no sense, in any songbook. I hope my kid is never in this illiterate teacher's classroom. Sorry if you don't like that fact. And yes, it does matter what you say. If you're illiterate, it shows. In this case, my feelings have nothing to do with this teacher's inarticulate position, whatever it actually turns out to be. People like this need to be weeded out. Period.

Lurker.

Anonymous said...

Let's stop the personal attacks. They are the lowest form of discourse.

This is not a forum for the Jerry Springer show.

Anonymous said...

No RIFs at View Ridge.

Actually adding staff and portables even though projected enrollment is below current enrollment.

- A parent at VR