Adopted by CTA Teacher Evaluation Workgroup 5/25/11
The Need for Change
Currently, there is much discussion and interest in teacher evaluation with a consensus that the way teachers are currently evaluated needs to change. There are many problems with the current system of evaluating teachers. First and foremost is the frustration that teachers experience participating in a process which many feel is cursory, perfunctory, superficial and inconsistent. The current system, which is largely based on singular and fleeting observations, provides incomplete or inaccurate portrayals of a teacher’s skills and abilities. Teachers are concerned about not receiving helpful feedback because in many cases administrators receive very little training on how to conduct effective evaluations. It is why teachers want a system that provides meaningful feedback, improves their practice, allows them to grow in the profession and ultimately enhances student learning. For this reason, it is important that the California Teachers Association be at the forefront of current teacher evaluation reforms. We have the opportunity to lead discussions and build a better system to serve teachers, students and the community.
It is imperative to assess and evaluate what we value in education – not simply what is easy to measure. Currently, there are those who would impose a system which relies on student test scores to evaluate the effectiveness of teachers. The simplicity of this approach can be seductive, but it is inherently flawed and meaningless as it is not only unable to achieve its goal of evaluating teacher effectiveness, but also has severe negative consequences for the learning outcomes of students. The misuse of data threatens individual teachers’ well-being, creates unhealthy school environments, and undermines otherwise effective evaluation systems. Research shows that evaluating teachers mainly on standardized test scores leads to teaching to the test and a narrowing of the curriculum, conversely the goal should be providing all students a well-rounded curriculum that focuses on the development of critical thinking skills.
A good evaluation system must reflect the complexity of teaching and learning and focus on teaching practices that best support student learning. Teachers are certainly important to the success of their students, but student learning is not influenced by just one teacher. There are many factors within and outside of the school walls that impact student learning. Students learn at different paces and have different needs and learning modalities. Adequate resources, school climate, safety, and time are significant to a student’s learning. Schools also have unique cultural routines and learning environments that shape teaching and students’ learning opportunities in the classroom What is best for students is providing them with opportunities to learn that are tied to high standards, rigorous curricula, and effective teaching strategies. All of these factors need to be considered in developing a useful and fair teacher evaluation system.
By proposing a new approach to teacher development and evaluation, we are calling for a series of changes in the state evaluation framework that would then be incorporated into evaluation systems negotiated at the local level.
Purposes of Evaluation
CTA believes that the purpose of an effective teacher development and evaluation system is to inform, instruct, and improve teaching and learning; to provide educators with meaningful feedback on areas of strength and where improvement is needed; and to ensure fair and valid employment decisions. An effective evaluation system must include both formative and summative methods that must be integrated with quality professional development and the necessary resources and support for teachers to improve their practice and enhance student learning.
Developing a New Framework
Existing state policies currently define the purposes of teacher evaluation which include professional development centered on continual growth and improvement, professional engagement of quality teaching practices, and dismissal considerations (e.g., Ed Code 44662, Ed Code 44932, et seq.). The governing board of each school district shall evaluate and assess certificated employee performance as it reasonably relates to:
- The progress of pupils toward the standards established pursuant to subdivision (a) and, if applicable, the state adopted academic content standards as measured by state adopted criterion referenced assessments.
- The instructional techniques and strategies used by the employee.
- The employee's adherence to curricular objectives.
- The establishment and maintenance of a suitable learning environment, within the scope of the employee's responsibilities.
In conjunction with current state policies, CTA is developing a set of guiding principles and an evaluation framework to assist local chapters in shaping and bargaining a more supportive and equitable teacher evaluation system. Critical to these principles is that they blend statutory requirements with appropriate, locally-bargained language that will make teacher evaluation systems fair and transparent in the context of teaching and learning. Local chapters should be able to use these principles to develop agreements in three broad areas:
- Purposes of a local evaluation framework. (e.g., need, use, audience, core issues)
- Role and responsibilities of ALL stakeholders in formative and summative evaluation activities (e.g., induction, permanent status, career pathways, and PAR)
- Relationship between the processes of evaluation and the outcomes of evaluation decisions (e.g., personnel and improvement)
CTA believes that the following principles are essential to any effective and fair teacher development and evaluation system.
- The goal of any evaluation system is to strengthen the knowledge, skills and practices of teachers to improve student learning.
- Any evaluation system must be collectively bargained at the local level to ensure the buy-in and trust of all affected parties and to ensure local conditions are considered. This includes policies, assessment standards, timelines, procedures, peer involvement, implementation, monitoring, and review.
- Any evaluation system must be developed and implemented with teacher participation to ensure a supportive climate for improving practice and growth and to promote collaboration among educators.
- Any evaluation system must be differentiated to support the development of educators through all career stages – from beginning to mid-career to veteran.
- Any evaluation system must address the varying assignments of certificated educators, including those who teach core and non-core subject areas, and are classroom and non-classroom educators (e.g., resource teachers, counselors, nurses, and psychologists).
- Any evaluation system must include evidence of teaching and student learning from multiple sources.
- A comprehensive teacher evaluation system must recognize the different purposes of evaluation and be comprised of both formative and summative methods.
- Any evaluation system must provide relevant and constructive feedback and support that informs teaching practices. Feedback must be coordinated with high quality professional development that is continuous; is linked to curriculum standards; and allows for adequate time and resources for coaching, modeling, observation, and mentoring.
- Any evaluation system should include opportunities for peer involvement for advisory and support purposes.
- Any evaluation system must consider the complexities of teaching and student learning that are outside of the teacher’s control and beyond the classroom walls.
- Any evaluation system should be based on a set of standards of professional practice that acknowledge the multiple activities and responsibilities of educators that contribute to the improvement of learning and the success of the school.
- All evaluators must have extensive training and regular calibration in all evaluation procedures and instruments.
- All evaluation components and procedures must be clearly defined, explained, and transparent to all educators.
- All evaluation tools must be research-based and regularly monitored for validity and reliability.
- Data used for evaluation and improvement purposes must be kept confidential to protect the integrity and utility of information used to improve professional practices.
- Any evaluation system must be monitored and evaluated to ensure that it is working as intended and it remains consistent with its purpose.
- Any effective evaluation system that supports professional learning requires an ongoing commitment of financial resources, training, and time.