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Waiver Plans on Educator Evaluation Fuel Hope, Concern

Publication date: Mar 22, 2012

Click on the state name to view each summary: Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New MexicoOklahoma, and Tennessee.

On May 29, eight more states were granted NCLB waivers by the Department of Education: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Rhode Island. The Education Trust does not currently plan to perform the same analyses for these states as for the first 11.

The Education Trust has played an active part in every stage of the waiver processes for No Child Left Behind.  We’ve worked with twin goals in mind: minimizing the risks and maximizing the chances for progress in closing gaps and raising student achievement. To help stakeholders monitor implementation of the waiver plans, we’re publishing summaries of the first 11 state plans that were approved in three critical areas: accountability, teacher evaluation, and implementation of college- and career-ready standards. This second set of analyses is on educator evaluation, and reveals both promises and peril. It follows the first set, on the accountability plans, which we released in February.

More than any other in-school factor, teachers determine whether our students succeed and our nation’s schools improve. The caliber of our teacher corps, therefore, powerfully shapes the quality of our future workforce, the strength of our economy, and the health of our democracy. Teachers and schools need data to ramp up instruction and boost student achievement. Well designed, educator evaluations can provide this kind of information.

The 11 approved evaluation plans vary widely, showing strengths (worthy of emulation by other states) and issues that warrant further consideration, especially by those who are committed to closing gaps.

Ed Trust approached the review of each plan with an eye toward three elements: design, implementation, and use — for such important purposes as professional development and personnel decisions. Our analysis revealed examples of promising practices that could guide other states that are still wrestling with the thorny details of educator evaluations.

  • Tennessee has developed and implemented a data system into which evaluators input real-time data from observations.
  • To assess the impact of teachers in non-tested subjects on student growth, Florida will build a statewide resource bank with formative and interim assessments for all grades and subjects, along with guidelines for their use.
  • To help ensure evaluations are valid and reliable, Colorado plans to collect and track district-level data on educator ratings, such as student performance associated with each rating.
  • Minnesota and Florida are taking steps to put effective teachers in low-performing schools.

Although much work went into development of these state plans for educator evaluation, the really hard work lies ahead. Will these plans yield strong evaluation systems that boost results for teachers and students? Or will they perpetuate the flaws found in today’s systems? Answers to these crucial questions now rest in the hands of state leaders and educators.

—Paula Amann

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