Instructional Leadership in Action

CEL Participating in Washington State's New Teacher Evaluation Pilot

by UWCEL on Dec 1, 2010

Washington State's recent legislation calling for development and implementation of a new Teacher/Principal Evaluation (Pilot) program has set off an intensive discussion among educators and communities statewide about what good teaching looks like and how to evaluate it.  The new law (E2SSB 6696 - Regarding Education Reform (2010)), enacted in support of the state's efforts to participate in Race to the Top, requires Washington’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to partner with the Washington Education Association, Washington Association of School Administrators, the Association of Washington School Principals, and the Washington State Parent Teacher Association to design a process for improving the state's principal and teacher evaluation systems.

As part of that effort, the state has funded eight school districts and one educational service district to develop and implement teacher evaluation systems over a two-year pilot period.  One of the funded sites, Anacortes School District, has invited CEL to collaborate with them in developing a teacher evaluation tool based on CEL's Five Dimensions of Teaching and Learning (5D) framework.  

Anacortes chose to work with CEL on their evaluation design because they find that the 5D framework is improving not only their teachers' classroom practices, but also their principals' and district office leaders' ability to help teachers improve.  Other teacher evaluation pilot sites are also considering the 5D as a possible framework.  Nearly 30 sites statewide (schools, districts, ESDs, and/or university programs) in Washington are currently working with CEL to use the 5D framework in professional growth for teachers and leaders.

According to Michaela Miller, National Board Certification Coordinator and Teacher and Principal Evaluation Project Manager at OSPI, “the most rewarding aspect of this project has been the intentional conversations teachers, principals, and district administrators have been engaged in centered around effective teaching and leading. The project has prodded the deliberate and thoughtful conversations every school in the state should be having answering the question, What does gold standard teaching and leading look like?"

Components of the New WA Teacher Evaluation System

The eight criteria under the new teacher evaluation system in WA are:

  1. Centering instruction on high expectations
  2. Demonstrating effecting teaching practices
  3. Recognizing individual student learning needs and developing strategies to address those needs
  4. Providing clear and intentional focus on subject matter content and curriculum
  5. Fostering and managing a safe, positive learning environment
  6. Using multiple student data elements to modify instruction and improve student learning
  7. Communicating with parents and school community
  8. Exhibiting collaborative and collegial practices

The new teacher evaluation system also requires these criteria to be measured using a four-level rating scale, provide evidence to student growth, and to provide support for professional growth.

"We are excited to be working with UW CEL to do the 'cross walk' with the eight new Washington State evaluation criteria and the 5Ds of learning.  We believe the 5D is not only clearly aligned with at least six of the evaluation criterion, but will also provide a clear definition of each criteria along with a continuum of evidence or lack of evidence to reach each criteria standard," said Chris Borgen, Superintendent of Anacortes School District.

Teacher Evaluation Pilot sites will complete the development of their teacher evaluation systems prior to the end of this school year and begin piloting the processes in the 2011-12 school year. The Superintendent of Public Instruction will analyze the work of the pilot sites and recommend one or more models that all remaining school districts in the State must begin using by 2013-14.

OSPI Project Manager Miller makes the following recommendations for other states that are about to begin or are currently engaged in this work:

  1. "Intentional and deliberate collaboration among stakeholders".
    From the beginning of this legislation to now there is a coalition at the state level committed to working together to see this is developed by educators and with educators. This model is replicated in the districts and is a reminder to other states that if substantive change is a goal of a new teacher and principal evaluation system; collaboration is a key.
  2. “Resist Something Shiny”
    States must resist the urge to get distracted by something shiny, shallow and off the shelf. In many states, like Washington, we are breaking a 25 year system of compliance. This change will take time and dedication to overturning every rock to see what works, what doesn’t and what we can’t live without. There are numbers that can help us in this process; there is no doubt. Formative and summative assessments, student work, classroom, school, district, and state level data all contribute to the collective picture of a school or classroom. The state and education stakeholders must allow the educators the time to paint the complex and nuanced evaluation picture over time and then step back to look at and analyze the results.
  3. “Courage, Commitment and Relationships”
    If states really want to do something unique and revolutionary in this work, they will ask for the courage and commitment from teachers and principals to lead the way to a new evaluation system built on the premise of shared responsibility, meaningful relationships among all school learners and a commitment to a new evaluations system built around a continuum of professional growth and student learning.

CEL is committed to the development of leadership skills, content and instructional knowledge and abilities of teachers, school administrators, and district leaders. About the new push for teacher evaluation in Washington State, CEL Executive Director Dr. Stephen Fink says, "We are delighted to be participating in this critical initiative that we think will be a real leap forward in terms of acknowledging the complex and sophisticated craft of teaching.  An evaluation system that truly builds the capacity of our teachers will lead to better practice which ultimately will result in greater student learning."

Topics: Teacher Evaluation

About the author: UWCEL

At the Center for Educational Leadership we partner with courageous leaders in classrooms, schools and the systems that support them to eliminate educational inequities by creating cultures of rigorous teaching, learning and leading. Our vision is transformed schools empowering all students regardless of background to create limitless futures for themselves, their families, their communities, and the world.

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