There is no question about it—we all want great teachers in our schools.
The federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) requires all public school teachers to meet a specific set of requirements in order to be classified as highly qualified. Furthermore, the Vermont Department of Education’s guidelines and accountability requirements are also widely documented and available for public consumption.
But establishing a set of requirements and creating a process through which schools can ensure and maintain them are different enterprises. How do schools support their educators in ever-changing academic, technological, and social climates? What resources and processes are available to encourage professional development? What elements should be in place in order to ensure continued learning not only for the students but for the educators themselves?
Beginning with the 2010–2011 school year, Colchester School District instituted an enhanced and refined teacher evaluation model as a means of objectively assessing our teachers and aligning their performance with the district’s initiatives. It provides detailed professional growth cycles along with specific rubrics and schedules, and it has been designed in order to provide a number of supports for teachers across all levels of experience.
To offer some historical perspective, it is important to note that the former teacher evaluation model did not include the analysis of evidence-based data. In fact, it was highly subjective, and evaluations were often at the mercy of administrators’ personal biases and sentiments. It was an outdated, largely ineffective method of assessing teachers’ performance, and as such, it was the decision of Superintendent Larry Waters to spearhead the creation and implementation of an entirely fresh, innovative model.
Consequently, the Colchester School District Teacher Evaluation Leadership Team (TEL-T)—a collaborative group consisting of one teacher from each of the five schools, one elementary and one secondary principal, one school board member, one CEA representative, and one central office administrator—was assembled. TEL-T, which is responsible for recommending changes to and making clarifications of the teacher evaluation process, created a subcommittee and charged it with writing a new, research-based teacher evaluation model.
Creating a new evaluation model was a comprehensive and involved process that included evaluating and analyzing the existing process, in-depth learning about the components of research-based evaluations, reviewing other districts’ models, and studying professional literature on the subject.
And what was the final product?
A new evaluation model, entitled Framework for Teaching: Components of Professional Practice, was authored through contributions from the entire subcommittee, including Colleen Derry, Collen Marshall, Kathryn Anger, Peg Gillard, Robyn Schenck, Louisa Foley, Jim Marshall, and Larry Waters. Kathryn Anger and Louisa Foley conducted the final edits with input from Jim Marshall.
While including the aforementioned elements, the model was designed to support the following initiatives:
• Positive changes in teaching
• Positive impact upon student learning
• Collaboration among educators
• Evidence-based evaluations
• Positive impact upon school culture
• Advancement of district initiatives
• Rigorous professional learning
We will talk about these components, as well as other aspects of the teacher evaluation model, in our next installment of this primer. Stay tuned!
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