New Teacher Evaluation System Coming Next School Year, Schools in Lorain County Piloting Changes

New Teacher Evaluation System Coming Next School Year, Schools in Lorain County Piloting Changes
Posted on 02/10/2020
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New Teacher Evaluation System Coming Next School Year, Schools in Lorain County Piloting Changes
By: Carissa Woytach, The Chronicle
Posted: February 2, 2020 7:08 PM

ELYRIA — The state is making changes to its teacher evaluation system.

Under Senate Bill 216, the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System, or OTES, will change starting next school year. Districts throughout the state are participating in a voluntary pilot program this school year — including Constellation Schools in Elyria and Lorain.

Constellation Schools’ Elyria Community Principal Thomas Flood and Education Program Coordinator Brian Knight explained the new system focuses on the evaluation process, changing the rubric to make it less subjective between evaluators.

A standardized system

Senate Bill 216, passed in 2018, requires the State Board of Education to revise the teacher evaluation framework by May 1, with districts updating their local policies by July 1. It eliminates requirements that student academic growth count for half of a teacher’s evaluation and bars districts from using student learning objectives and shared attribution.

An SLO is meant to track year-long academic growth for students by testing them on a subject or skill at the beginning of the year and again at the end. They can include a focus on subjects like meeting grade-level reading goals, marks on assessments given throughout the year or performance goals in subjects like art or music.

Shared attribution is meant to encourage collaborative goals, according to the Department of Education. Knight admitted it could be a “frustrating piece” of the evaluation process. Options include district or building-level value added scores from the state report card, individual subjects like reading scores on standardized tests, or cultural shifts like attendance.

Instead of several different components, OTES 2.0 focuses on at least two measures of high-quality student data.

“OTES 2.0 is saying we're not worried about hitting that 80 percent (SLO), we're worried about your process of meeting the student needs,” Flood said. “So you have two form sets of data that we need to look at what are we doing with this, your low group (of students), your middle group, your high group, what are we doing to move them along?”

Student data used will be defined at the district level. Grades four through eight must use the value-added piece provided by the state report card system, Knight explained. Other options include standardized test scores in reading, math or science or district-defined data for staff who teach classes outside core subjects.

Knight added, “You have to be able to show growth within your high-quality student data.”

Flood said Elyria Community schools used the MAP/NWEA assessments, which are given three times a year and can show how students progress, in addition to the value-added component.

“This is where the state is putting a lot of faith in each school district to make high-quality student data because we look at the bottom here (on the guidelines), high quality student data is a local decision for each school,” he said.

Individual evaluations

Flood said while the new system gives districts leeway on defining high-quality student data, the rubric for individual evaluations is less subjective.

The new rubric in part bases skill levels off whether a teacher uses high-quality student data to create and meet goals within their classroom.

Flood said it holds the evaluator to a higher standard too, requiring them to follow up with staff after the initial evaluation. He said he told his teachers to start a folder at the beginning of the year to keep track of student data -- as observers can’t see evidence of every component in a 30 minute observation.

“You have to a pre-conference at least, and you have to have your post-conference too,” he said. “You've got to really be communicating on that ... In general the people in school need to be aware throughout the year of what they've been doing. You can't just roll in there and say 'OK it's time to be observed' — the process won't be effective.”

Under the new system, teachers and evaluators will have to develop either a professional growth plan or improvement plan, based on teacher’s previous rating. Professional growth plans will be for educators rated developing, skilled or accomplished; an improvement plan would be for someone rated ineffective — the lowest on the evaluation scale.

Flood and Knight agreed the new system may make it harder for a teacher to reach “accomplished” on the ratings scale — the highest of the four levels. Flood explained if you read through the rubric, someone rated “developing” isn’t doing a bad job.

Knight added when the state’s evaluation process was initially rolled out about seven years ago the expectation was 5 to 10 percent of teachers would be ineffective and 5 to 10 percent would be accomplished, the rest would fall in between. He said the previous rubric saw a lot more staff rated skilled and accomplished, where OTES 2.0 is “trying to get that balance back.”

“Some of the accomplished teachers may grade out with skilled,” he said. “... I think the biggest gap is going to be accomplished and skilled.”

Flood said he can foresee issues in larger districts for some of the changes.

With districts left to determine how many goals teachers need to work toward in a professional growth plan, some could ask staff to meet five, others two. Additionally, defining high quality data could spark some disputes.

“Those are the two things where it's going to be interesting to see what districts decide on how they want to go about it and the variances of accountability levels and what they expect, I think that could be controversial in a lot of different districts, especially when dealing with teachers unions and things like that,” Flood said.

The state school board is holding a hearing at 8:30 a.m. Feb. 10 in Columbus to discuss the new framework. Written testimony can be submitted to SBOE@education.ohio.gov.

For more information on the current or upcoming OTES system, visit education.ohio.gov.


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