Academic journal article Educational Research Quarterly

Kentucky Principal Perceptions of the State's New Teacher Evaluation System: A Survey Analysis

Academic journal article Educational Research Quarterly

Kentucky Principal Perceptions of the State's New Teacher Evaluation System: A Survey Analysis

Article excerpt

Abstract

This research examines how public school principals in Kentucky perceive their new teacher evaluation system and the proficiency exam they must take and pass in order to evaluate their staff. An online survey was developed and 308 out of an estimated 1,100 working school prindpals across Kentucky responded, yielding a response rate of 28%. Results showed that most Kentucky prindpals were not happy with the new teacher evaluation system and the profidency test they must take. Responses suggested an average of three changes they would make to the evaluation system or the profidency test; positive comments were rare. Targets for improvement include the software system used to enter teacher evaluations, the evaluation's student growth goals and student voice section, and more training from the state on how to use the new evaluation instrument. A majority of the prindpals might leave their job earlier than planned because of having to implement the new evaluation instrument; most also might leave earlier than planned because of the increased number of teacher evaluations they have to perform as part of the system or because of the increased emphasis on test scores in teachers' evaluations. Most respondents, however, agreed that using the new evaluation system has improved their school's instructional program and that the new instrument is preferable to their old teacher evaluation instrument. Most respondents felt unprepared to implement the new evaluation system.

Introduction

Since 2009, over thirty U.S. states have overhauled their teacher evaluation instruments (Ruffini, Makkonen, Tejwani, & Diaz, 2014). Many have done so in order to meet Federal guidelines and obtain some of President Obama's $5 billion Race To the Top money. Of these states, over 20 have either adopted entirely or created a modified version of educator consultant Charlotte Danielson's Framework for Teaching as their new teacher evaluation system (The Danielson Group, 2013) . By 2012, fourteen states required measures of student growth and learning when evaluating teachers (National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality, 2012), although the type and specificity of regulations encompassing the use of student growth in teacher evaluation vary widely across states. While such efforts ostensibly aim to improve educational quality, experienced teachers - and administrators - often find them fraught.

Across the country, teachers are retiring, quitting, or getting fired in districts where new teacher evaluation instruments include student test scores. In Baltimore County, Maryland, alone, over 700 teachers decided to either retire or resign in 2014, about 100 more than two years earlier (Bowie, 2014) . In New Haven, Connecticut, 28 teachers were fired in just their second year of teaching, largely because of low student test scores (Bailey, New Haven, 2012).

In Nevada's new teacher evaluation system, known as the Nevada Educators Performance Framework, teachers and school-level administrators earn one of four designations, from ineffective to highly effective, based on their score. The scoring system is divided into two equally-weighted parts. The first half relies almost entirely on an administrator's observations of the teacher. The second half relies exclusively on student scores from state tests (Nevada Dept, of Education, 2014). Principals reportedly were "sticker shocked" when told they must observe teachers in the classroom up to three times a year under the new policy, while teachers expressed fear over using school-wide scores for individual evaluations (Milliard, 2013). Then, in August, 2014, after the first year of implementation, over 200 teachers in the Clark County School District decided to retire, with the number of retirees expected to grow by about 20 teachers per week (Johnson, 2014).

Neighboring New Mexico is a state which modified Danielson's Framework for Teaching, renaming it the NMTEACH Educator Effectiveness System. …

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