New Evaluations to Greet Teachers as Classes Begin

Article excerpt

The Department of Education has finalized details of its new "educator effectiveness" system -- a redesigned teacher evaluation that takes into account student academic achievement -- as it prepares to unveil the rating system statewide when school starts Aug. 5.

The department will use the next year to smooth any bumps, and beginning July 1, 2015, pay raises and other personnel consequences, such as termination, will be tied to teachers' ratings. Evaluations for new hires on probation, however, will include employment repercussions starting in the 2013-14 school year.

Education officials say the new system will provide feedback to help all teachers improve while identifying ineffective teachers and recognizing those who are excelling in the classroom. Overhauling teacher evaluations was a key pledge -- and one of several major reforms -- in the state's application for its $75 million federal Race to the Top grant.

"This is not about firing teachers. It's about trying to improve teaching," schools Superintendent Kathryn Mata­yo­shi said Tuesday. "We hire 800 to 1,000 new teachers a year. We're not looking to get rid of people. We want to help our current teachers get better."

The changes will affect more than 12,500 Hawaii public school teachers.

With agreement from the teachers union, half of a teacher's annual evaluation will be based on student learning and growth, measured in part by student test scores. The other half will be based on teaching practices and will be rated through classroom observations and student surveys.

"This starts with the premise that the most impactful aspect of a student's education is their teacher," said Stephen Schatz, the department's assistant superintendent for strategic reform.

Matayoshi said determining how much weight to give each of the metrics involved surveying more than 1,000 teachers at 81 schools where pieces of the new system were tried out through the past two years. The department also received input from teacher forums and working groups and a joint review committee made up of department and Hawaii State Teachers Association representatives.

How much of a teacher's evaluation will be based on test scores versus student surveys and classroom observations will depend on job assignment.

For example, for classroom teachers who teach grades and subjects that the annual Hawaii State Assessment tests students on --English language arts and math in grades three through eight and 10 -- test scores will account for 25 percent of their evaluation.

For classroom teachers who teach early grades and nontested subjects such as science, social studies, art, gym and foreign language, test scores will account for 5 percent of their evaluation. For those teachers, so-called student learning objectives will account for 45 percent of their evaluation.

Learning objectives will involve teachers setting academic goals at the start of the year and mapping how they will measure the extent to which their students meet those goals.

Rating of a teacher's practices will involve a classroom observation model developed by teaching expert Charlotte Danielson. The model looks at planning and preparation; classroom environment; instruction; and professional responsibilities. Principals and vice principals have received training on the protocols.

The department has contracted with Cambridge Education's Tripod Project, which creates the student surveys for dozens of school districts, to handle the student survey piece.

Teachers' scores will be translated into one of four overall effectiveness ratings: unsatisfactory, marginal, effective or highly effective. …