Evaluation steering committee interview - Part III
Date Posted: 6/11/2014 | Author: Jennifer Mitchell, CAE
The Teach the Vote Interview:
ATPE Members Serving on the Texas Teacher Standards and Evaluation Steering Committee April 2014PART III Last year the Texas Education Agency (TEA) appointed a steering committee of educators to provide input on new teacher standards and a new evaluation system. This is the last segment of our three-part interview with some of the ATPE members serving on that committee.
TEACH THE VOTE: WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE UPCOMING PILOT OF THE PROPOSED NEW EVALUATION SYSTEM? Jeremy Wagner: “The state is going to pilot both the standards and the new evaluation tool with 70 districts around the state for the upcoming 2014-15 school year and make modifications based on feedback from that pilot group. I am confident that [the standards and evaluation system] are strong enough to withstand the test. … There will be a lot that is revealed as a result of this pilot year that will ease tensions, answer questions and even provide multiple opportunities for more feedback from anyone who wants to give it.” Libbie Payne: “This is a new concept and one that must be carefully considered and implemented. Because there is limited data that demonstrates that student growth measures teacher effectiveness, I am convinced that we must consider this option tentatively, collect our own data, and evaluate its effectiveness. We must not be married to this and leave this option open to modification, alignment, refinement and potentially even dismissal.” TEACH THE VOTE: HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE STEERING COMMITTEE’S WORK PRODUCT AND THE RECOMMENDATIONS IT ULTIMATELY MADE FOR NEW EVALUATIONS? Stephanie Stoebe: “One of the goals of the work was that the new evaluation tool be used to facilitate conversations between administrators and teachers. I like the emphasis on providing teachers support, as great teachers need support just as much as, albeit differently from, new or struggling teachers.” Payne: “I believe our work on the [evaluation] rubric complements the new teaching standards beautifully. My greatest levels of concern are related to the measurement of student growth and the matrix that will assign a teacher effectiveness rating. … I think the entire committee still has concerns about VAM, the measurement of student growth, values placed on individual items to be included, and the matrix itself. Personally, I look forward to seeing the entire system as a ‘package deal’ and would prefer not to put my personal stamp of approval on it until we have the opportunity to assess and digest feedback from the pilot districts. I think the system is still a work in progress.” Wagner: “I think that the current system we’ve developed actually addresses all teachers from pre-K— 12 pretty well. It also does a good job of addressing the non-tested content areas. No one on the committee seemed to be unhappy with the end product. The committee included a pre-k teacher, a PE teacher, several elective teachers (including technology), several administrators, parents, etc. …Let’s put it this way: I’d be comfortable being evaluated under this new rubric.” TEACH THE VOTE: TELL US MORE ABOUT THE COMPOSITION OF THE STEERING COMMITTEE AND WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO BE SELECTED TO SERVE ON THE COMMITTEE. Stoebe: “I remember being told quite candidly that we on the panel were the experts in teaching and our opinions and concerns were valued. The Texas Education Agency and SEDL honored my fellow educators and me in the ten days we worked, allowing us to express ourselves and encouraging open discussion. I have to admit the committee work was difficult; we were representing over 325,000 educators and millions of children in Texas. It was part of our role to make recommendations on teacher standards and an evaluation tool that would be appropriate in schools from Dime Box to Dallas and from preschool students to seniors. … I feel that the majority of the steering committee members were in agreement as to what good teaching looked like and what was required of a professional teacher for an evaluation. This fact is really the most positive take away for me as a representative of the committee. Imagine teachers of physical education, Spanish, preschool, Algebra II, second grade, ESL, SPED, CTE courses, and AP English (just to name a few) being very much aligned on the needs of students (all students!) and the requirements of teachers (all teachers!) When we had disagreements, it was more of an issue of the weight of an idea rather than whether or not an idea was valid. The professionalism of the committee members made me proud to be selected for this work, but more importantly, it reaffirmed my hope that the changes we were recommending were truly for the betterment of public education in Texas. I cannot have imagined a more empowering experience in my career as an educator.” Payne: “I am not sure that I initially had a clear understanding of what my role on the steering committee was to be. Before I was selected to serve on the committee, I was invited by TEA to respond to several questions about my professional background and my assessment of what contributed to the making of a successful teacher. I was honored to have been chosen to apply to be a member of the committee. I saw this as an opportunity to represent my profession and ensure that any new teacher evaluation methods were equitable and just. Similarly, having taught three decades-plus, I have experienced many changes in education, especially as technology has emerged and has been embraced as a learning tool. I have also witnessed the effect of quality and poor teaching, so I was confident that I had something to contribute. … It was when I was named to serve on the committee and we received our first reading list that it became clear this was going to be a challenging task that was going to require dedication, time and a concerted effort. … Without question, I believe I was invited to apply to serve on the committee because I had been named the ESC 2 2012 Regional Teacher of the Year, but as the committee worked, it became clear that each committee member had been ‘handpicked.’ Our committee was as diverse as the many regions of our state, and it was evident that individual committee members represented each of the state’s many regions. Similarly, each member seemed to have a unique expertise that could speak to the needs of their community of educators as well as to the needs of the students in their discipline or teaching environment. The committee spanned levels from prekindergarten to university education preparation professor and covered the broad spectrum of responsibilities across all disciplines. I marvel at the TEA facilitators’ ability to build a team of educators where each member was one of a kind that clearly represented an educational specialty. I believe I was specifically selected to represent the coastal bend of Texas, alternative learning environments for at-risk high school students, vocational education and technology as it is integrated in classrooms today.” TEACH THE VOTE: DO YOU FEEL THE COMMITTEE MEMBERS’ INPUT WAS CONSIDERED AND VALUED BY TEA AND THE FACILITATORS? Payne: “Yes, indeed! I had concerns about the absence of specific references to technology in the first rubric document produced. When I shared my concern that technology had not been given the emphasis I thought it deserved, I was asked personally to provide suggestions. I was pleased that TEA representatives valued and sought my ideas and opinions. By the next meeting, references to technology were carefully woven into the rubric in such a way that it would allow the document to remain viable and dynamic even as our uses of technology grow and change. … Because of our commitment to the mission, our discussions, collaborations, and consensus building were collegial and all concerns, views, ideas and suggestions were valued. The more time we spent together the better our work became, and we now see our group as a family rather than a committee.” Stoebe: “At one point, a facilitator asked us to think of our own personal passion for education. We were asked to review the standards and the evaluation tool to see if our passion was represented. I searched these items to see if the English Language Learner was represented; I can fully support the upcoming changes knowing that students who need linguistic accommodations are specifically addressed in the new standards and evaluation system.” Wagner: “I think my recommendations were listened to and I saw some of them reflected in changes to drafts of the evaluation tool and the standards. … Everyone was valued and allowed time to contribute.”
Stay up to date on all the changes to teacher evaluations at our Educator Evaluation Reform Resources page.
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