Designing evaluations to improve student outcomes and educators’ professional development

For more than a decade, teacher evaluations have been strictly mandated with requirements and rubrics for observation and testing. But new federal guidelines under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) no longer require the use of prescribed teacher evaluation systems, giving states and districts more say in the structure of their evaluation models.

However, ESSA doesn’t eliminate all data collecting requirements from K-12 schools.

“States still have to collect student information and do standardized tests as part of ESSA,” said Dr. Lisa Andrejko, strategic advisor for PeopleAdmin, and former public school teacher, principal, director of technology and superintendent. Lisa added that though opinions vary on how accurately these tests measure student achievement, they can be effective tools for identifying areas for instructor improvement.

“Since we have to collect this student information, we should figure out a way to use it for teacher development and growth,” she said. “Turn the lemons of all this testing we have to do into lemonade so we can have open and honest conversations with teachers. Not ‘I gotcha’ conversations where we link student performance to their evaluations, but saying ‘Here’s an area you can look at to target your professional growth.’”

Using student testing data to partner with teachers to complete evaluations and encourage professional development is one way Lisa advocates building a growth-oriented supervision model.

“I encourage schools to improve collaboration by changing the conversation away from evaluations as a compliance tool — where supervision is being done to teachers — and instead focus on growth and professional development.”

Lisa says the most effective evaluation models begin with the end in mind — improved student outcomes.

“A great supervision plan is a continuous cycle with student outcomes at the center. If we’re collecting information but not getting teachers to use the information to change their practice, what are we doing it for?” she asked. “We’re in the teaching and learning business, and in my opinion, evaluations need to focus back on the growth of teachers instead of just the recording and collection of data.”

Learn more about growth-oriented teacher supervision in the webinar, Can’t see the forest for the trees? Growth-oriented teacher supervision, which Lisa co-hosted with Dr. Tony Davis, consulting director, leadership and human capital, at McREL International.

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