By Mike Myslinski
Donald Stauffer votes during a workgroup meeting
Seldom do votes by CTA’s State Council get a standing ovation. The nearly 800 delegates rose from their chairs and applauded the unanimous approval of the new CTA Teacher Evaluation Framework, knowing that the new policy gives California’s educators a stronger voice in teacher appraisal.
More than two years in the making, the framework is to be used when developing and bargaining local evaluation programs. It centers on the underlying principle that the goal of any evaluation system is to strengthen the knowledge, skills and practices of teachers to improve student learning.
“This is exactly the kind of framework we need,” said Council delegate Betty Olson-Jones, Oakland Education Association president. “It really lays it out in a way that we can use in bargaining.”
The framework provides guidance to local educators and their unions, as well as local school districts and the state Legislature, in how to approach teacher evaluation.
The framework builds on the 17 teacher evaluation principles approved by State Council in June 2011. The CTA Teacher Evaluation Workgroup forged the plan after hearing from CTA members and numerous experts and looking at assessment systems used across the country.
The framework formally introduces the practice of “formative” and “summative” evaluation procedures. The formative process focuses on increasing knowledge and improving professional practice; test scores may be included but are not used for employment decisions. The summative process summarizes a teacher’s practice based on teaching and learning standards and can be used in employment decisions.
The broad framework rejects using the controversial “value-added” measures based on student test scores in teacher evaluations.
While the state’s Stull Act places the emphasis on summative high-stakes decision-making, the CTA guidelines stress formative assessments that improve teachers’ skills and student achievement, said CTA Vice President Eric Heins, who chairs the Teacher Evaluation Workgroup.
“We are expanding the conversation to formative evaluations, which is really what evaluations should be about. That means improving our practice in order to improve student achievement,” Heins told delegates.
To combat the cursory “drive-by” nature of many teacher evaluations, the framework calls for making the process truly a joint endeavor where “the teacher is an active participant, fully engaged and focused on learning and improving practice, while the evaluator is a knowledgeable partner providing comprehensive, consistent and timely feedback, information and guidance.”
The CTA framework empowers teachers, said Neil Wilson, a member of the East Side Teachers Association in San Jose. “It shows teaching is a partnership not only between us and students, but with the community and parents and administrators.”
Read the 36-page framework document.