Rhode Island Federation of Teacher and Healthcare Professionals
356 Smith Street, Providence, Rl 02908
P (401) 273-9800 F (401) 331-8815
info@rifthp.org

Innovation Initiative on Educator Evaluation Overview

Rhode Island Federation of Teachers & Health Professionals

Innovation Initiative on Educator Evaluation Overview of System to Date (February, 2011) 

The Rhode Island Federation of Teachers & Health Professionals is engaged in a collaborative partnership with six urban RIFTHP locals and their school district administrators (Central Falls, Cranston, Pawtucket, Providence, West Warwick and Woonsocket) to design a high quality, comprehensive educator evaluation and support system.  This effort is guided by the belief that educator evaluation must be focused on professional growth, be based on multiple sources of evidence and provide meaningful feedback and support to educators in service of continuous improvement in teaching and learning.

This effort, the RI Innovation Initiative on Educator Evaluation, is supported by an AFT Innovation grant and a US Department of Education i3 Innovation grant.  With that support and the leadership of the RIFTHP, the six Innovation districts have worked collaboratively through a design team of local union presidents, superintendents, teacher union leaders and administrators (6 members per local) with involvement from the RI Department of Education, higher education and the AFT to design a model evaluation system aligned with the RI Professional Teaching Standards, the RI Educator Evaluation System Standards and influenced by the Charlotte Danielson Framework for Teaching.  National experts such as Laura Goe from ETS and, Charlotte Danielson, Albert (Duffy) Miller and Bernadette Cleland from the Danielson Group served as the initiative’s primary consultants.  The developmental effort has resulted in a draft educator evaluation system that will be piloted during the winter/spring semester of 2011.  The Innovation Initiative’s collaborative process and active involvement of superintendents and union presidents recognizes the importance of labor-management collaboration and collective bargaining in the successful development, adoption and implementation of a comprehensive educator evaluation and support system.

The Innovation Initiative’s Evaluation model is based upon a body of research recognizing that:

  • Teaching is a complex endeavor;
  • The teacher is the most significant factor in student achievement;
  • Teaching effectiveness is best assessed through multiple measures of teachers’ knowledge, skills and behaviors;
  • Impact on student growth and achievement should be factored into evaluation of educators’ effectiveness, but single measures of student achievement are insufficient to inform and improve teaching practice leading to increased student achievement;
  • Other factors and conditions outside teachers’ locus of control affect good teaching,, learning and student achievement;
  • Teachers need on-going support and development to improve teaching practice.

The Innovation Initiative’s Educator Evaluation system recognizes the quality of teaching as one of the most significant factors in ensuring that students achieve at high levels.  The primary purpose of this comprehensive educator evaluation system is improved teaching, leadership, and student achievement. 

The RI Innovation Initiative’s Educator Evaluation system is comprehensive, based on professional standards, multiple sources of evidence, individual goal setting and reflection, and differentiated professional development and support.  The system is aligned with the RI Professional Teaching Standards and Educator Evaluation System Standards and will incorporate RI’s model for determining educator’s impact on student growth and achievement.

Major Components of the RI Innovation Initiative’s Educator Evaluation System

The RI Innovation Initiative Educator Evaluation system is designed as a three-year cyclical process, ensuring that educators’ practice will be assessed and evaluated annually and that all aspects of an educator’s practice are reviewed and evaluated comprehensively as the cycle is completed.  The three-year cycle of data/evidence collection and analysis includes provisions for additional support and/or intensive intervention dependent upon an educator’s rating.

Each year of the three-year cycle emphasizes the evaluation of a specific aspect of an educator’s practice, establishing an emphasis for that year of the cycle.  The three years of emphasis are:

  • Planning for Student Impact
  • Application in Instruction
  • Professional Growth & Responsibilities

The basic components of the system, which will constitute the process used to evaluate all aspects of educators’ effectiveness during a baseline year for all educators, will include:

Personal Reflection and Goal Setting based on data:

At the beginning of each year, all educators will complete a personal self-reflection and set SMART (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Results oriented, Time bound) goals based on a review of data on student achievement, curriculum goals & objectives, previous evaluation of practice and personal professional goals.  Student achievement data, including information from appropriate state and local assessments, will be used to establish baseline data and measurement points to inform goal setting.  The review of data, reflection and goal setting will result in a plan for observation, evidence collection and review for the year.

 Observation of Practice

The evaluation process will include both formal and informal observations of practice based on the RI Innovation Initiative Framework for Teaching Standards.  At least one formal observation with a pre & post conference will be conducted and informal observations will be conducted as appropriate, needed and agreed to locally.  Formative feedback will be provided following all observations.  Observations will be conducted by administrator and peer evaluators trained and certified to ensure proficiency in standards based observation practices and interpretation of evidence against criteria as well as inter-rater reliability.

Collection and Review of Additional Evidence of Effectiveness

Educators will gather additional evidence of effectiveness aligned with the Innovation Initiative Framework for Teaching Standards such as examples of student work, lesson /unit preparation and study, collaborative practices, professional growth, and leadership practices.  This evidence will be reviewed by the administrator and/or peer evaluators and used to inform the assessment of the educator’s practice, particularly in the non-observable areas.

Evidence of Impact on Student Growth and Achievement

The RI Innovation Initiative Educator Evaluation system will incorporate the Rhode Island Department of Education formula for assessing impact on Student Growth & Achievement, once that formula is adopted. 

A summative evaluation of educator’s effectiveness will incorporate evidence from all aspects of practice and be used to determine an educator’s rating. (Highly Effective, Effective, Minimally Effective, Ineffective)  The baseline year’s summative evaluation and initial rating will be used to determine placement in the evaluation cycle.

Placement in the three-year cycle

The baseline level of performance data will be used to determine placement in the three-year cycle.  Placement will be determined as follows:

  • If, at the end of the baseline-implementation year, an educator’s practice is assessed to be highly effective or effective, he/she will be placed in the Planning for Student Impact or Professional Growth and Responsibilities year of the cycle.  The educator and supervisor will mutually determine in which year of the cycle the educator will be placed.
  • If, at the end of the baseline-implementation year, an educator’s practice is assessed to be minimally effective, he/she will, with guidance from the evaluator, develop a personal professional growth plan and continue in the Application in Instruction year until his/her practice is determined to be effective.
  • If, at the end of the baseline implementation year, an educator’s practice is assessed to be ineffective, he/she will be placed on a plan of intensive supervision and assistance, during which specific targets will be identified for improvement and timelines established for targets to be met.
  • Any educator identified as minimally effective or ineffective in any year of the cycle will be assigned to the application in instruction year of the cycle or the intensive supervision program as appropriate.
  • Each year will commence with a goal setting conference and culminate with a summative conference and review.  As technology is available it may be used to support goal setting, conferencing and overall communication regarding educator evaluation.

The Cycles:Planning for Student Impact

During the Planning for Student Impact year of the cycle, goal setting and review of evidence will focus on Domain 1 of the FfT and Standard 1 of FSL and an educator’s effectiveness in planning based on student need.  While not mandatory, observations during this cycle may focus on individual or team planning meetings and evidence collected and reviewed may highlight evidence of data analysis and instructional planning & revision.

Application in Instruction

The Application in Instruction year will focus primarily on Domains 2 &3 of the FfT and Standards 2 & 3 of FSL and the delivery of instruction and include formal and informal observations of instructional practice.  Minimally effective and ineffective educators remain in this year of the cycle until their practice is assessed as effective or they are removed from the system.

Professional Growth & Responsibilities

During the Professional Growth & Responsibilities year of the cycle, goal setting and evidence review will focus on Domains 4 & 5of the FfT and Standards 4, 5 & 6 of the FSL  and educator’s effectiveness in fulfilling professional responsibilities and developing and implementing professional growth goals.  While not mandatory, observations during this cycle may focus on educator’s involvement in school based / team based committees, curriculum development planning and professional development. Evidence collected and reviewed may highlight evidence of parent/family communication, involvement in school, district or team based activities and professional development.

 The Baseline Year

The Baseline Year will focus primarily on “Application in Instruction” component of the cycle.  The process recommended for the baseline year includes the following:

 Initial Goal Setting / Planning Conference (September – October)

Educators will meet with their evaluator(s) to review and discuss data on student achievement, curriculum goals and, as available, past evaluations.  Educators will develop 2 – 3 initial goals for the year that will guide observations and evidence collection and be used to measure educator and student growth.  This conference will set up the first formal observation.

First Formal Observation (September – November)

Based on the initial goal setting / planning conference, a formal observation of practice will be scheduled.  The observation will be scheduled for no less than 30 minutes with a recommended time of 30-45 minutes.  The evaluators will collect evidence based on Standards 2 & 3 of the Innovation Initiative Framework.  The evaluators will provide the educator with a summary of evidence collected and the educator will complete a reflection on the practice observed.  The observation will be followed by a post-conference within 5-7 days.

First Formal Post-Conference

During the first formal post-conference the educator and the evaluator(s)will review and discuss the evidence collected and use the rubric to guide a preliminary / formative assessment of practice.  This assessment will be used to identify areas of growth and focus.  Together, the educator and the evaluator will plan 2-3 informal, formative, observations that, while agreed upon in terms of focus, will be unannounced.

Informal Observations (December – February)

Based on the agreed upon area(s) for growth, the evaluator(s) will conduct 2-3 informal observations of the educator’s practice.  These observations should be unannounced, but planned for at least a15 minute duration.  The observations will focus on the planned area(s) for growth, evidence will be collected and formative feedback will be provided in writing to the educator within 2-3 days. 

2nd Formal Observation (February – April)

A 2nd formal observation of practice will be scheduled following the informal, formative, observations.    The observation will be scheduled for 30-45 minutes, evidence will be collected based on Standards 2 & 3, with a focus on the previously identified areas for growth. The evaluator(s) will provide the educator with a summary of evidence collected and the educator will complete a reflection on the practice observed.  This observation will be followed by a post-conference within 5-7 days.

Summative Post-Conference

During the summative post-conference the educator and evaluator(s) will review and discuss evidence collected during the observation as well as other artifacts submitted for review.  Based on the evidence review and discussion, the educator will receive a rating of highly effective, effective, minimally effective or ineffective and will develop/refine SMART goals or an improvement plan as outlined in the Innovation Initiative model.

Components of the Model:Standards

The RI Innovation Initiative Educator Evaluation system includes a RI Innovation Initiative Framework for Teaching that is based upon the Framework for Teaching (Danielson, ASCD, 2007), the RI Professional Teaching Standards, and the Framework for School Leaders (Hessel & Holloway, ETS, 2002) as the criteria against which effective teaching and leadership will be assessed and professional goals developed. The standards have been crossed-walked and rubrics aligned with the standards developed to be used to assess educator effectiveness.  Additionally, the system is aligned with the RI Educator Evaluation System Standards.

The Domains

The RI Innovation Initiative Framework for Teaching recognizes the complexity of teaching and is based on five domains (Danielson, 2007) that include:

  • Planning & Preparation
  • The Classroom Environment
  • Instruction
  • Professional Responsibilities
  • Professional Growth

The components within the 5 domains align with and account for the 11 standards in the RI Professional Teaching Standards (RIPTS) and provide descriptors of practice for those standards and levels of performance against which professional practice can be addressed.  A “sixth domain”, Impact on Student Growth and Achievement will be added once the RI Department of Education formula for assessing this domain is adopted.

Differentiated Model of Supervision & Evaluation

In accordance with legislated statutes, state regulations and the negotiated agreements between the local school districts and their respective union affiliates, the model recognizes and differentiates procedures and practices for non-tenured / first year and tenured professional educators and educators identified as highly effective, effective, minimally effective and ineffective.

Non-tenured educators and first year administrators will participate in a minimum of two formal observation cycles each year for the duration of the probationary period.  Educators whose practices are assessed to be less than effective will remain in this formal cycle of observation until their practices are determined to be effective.  Educators determined to be effective or highly effective will be placed in the three-year cycle.

Multiple Measures

The model is designed to be fair, credible and valid and reflect the complexity of teaching and leading.  To ensure a valid assessment of an educator’s practice, the use of multiple measures aligned with all domains are used to evaluate an educator’s practice.  The evaluation components are aligned with the RI Professional Teaching Standards (RIPTS) and the RI Leadership Standards and include:

  • Educator Professional Practice
  • Demonstration of professional growth and responsibility & content knowledge
  • Impact on Student growth & achievement

Multiple Measures of educator effectiveness will include observation of practice, review of additional artifacts/evidence such as self-reflections, lesson plans, student work samples etc., incorporation of the RIDE student growth model designed to assess educator’s professional practice, all linked to educators’ SMART goals.

The Process

  • At the beginning of each school year, every educator will review data on student achievement, curriculum goals and objectives and past professional evaluation, self assess their practice using the Descriptors of Practice in all domains of the FfT and all standards of the FSL and, in consultation with their administrator and/or peer reviewer, develop SMART goals and a plan for evidence collection and review.
  • Depending upon placement in the cycle, observations of practice will be conducted by certified expert administrator and/or peer evaluators and formative feedback provided.
  • Each educator will compile a portfolio/e-portfolio of evidence of practice related to domains 4 and 5 of the FfT and 4, 5 & 6 of the FSL that provides evidence of professional responsibilities, growth, collaboration and leadership as appropriate and aligned with SMART goals. Portfolios /E-portfolios will be submitted and reviewed by certified, expert administrator and peer evaluators and formative feedback provided.
  • A summative evaluation will include an analysis of results of observations, portfolio review and, when provided by RIDE evidence of impact on student growth and achievement.  The summative review will include a rating of Highly Effective, Effective, Minimally Effective or Ineffective and recommendations for continued professional growth and/or required support.

Evaluators

Districts will identify internal personnel (administrators and peers) who will train to become certified evaluators of teachers’ and school leaders’ practice.  The certification process will establish inter-rater reliability by ensuring that all evaluators collect specific evidence free of opinion and bias, align the evidence with the appropriate component of the measurement criteria, interpret the criteria accurately, and follow established evaluative processes.

Internal evaluators may consist of building and district level administrators, content specialists, master teachers, and other identified personnel. Evaluators may work individually and/or in pairs to complete both formal and informal observations and  review of additional evidence.  However, consistent with state statute, the Superintendent of Schools and/or his/her designee(s) will have overall responsibility to sign off on the final summative evaluations, and to make any recommendations relative to personnel employment.

 Peer Assistance and Review (PAR)

A Peer Assistance and Review (PAR) program will be established as a component of this model.  The PAR program is currently intended to provide internal evaluators and peer support for first year teachers and administrators as determined by local labor-management agreement.  The PAR component will be finalized during the baseline year and implemented after all potential PAR evaluators / support providers are identified, trained, and certified.

Implementation

Based on guidance / agreements with the RI Department of Education, a timeline for implementation of the RI Innovation Initiative on Educator Evaluation system will be followed.  This timeline will recognize the importance of piloting (field testing) the system (Winter, 2011), the need for successful adoption in each local district through the collective bargaining process (Spring, 2011), training and certification of administrator and peer evaluators and information sharing and professional development for all participants in the system (Spring-Summer, 2011 and on-going), and a graduated implementation plan (Beginning in September, 2011)

 For information regarding the RI Innovation Initiative on Educator Evaluation, contact Colleen A. Callahan, Ed.D., RIFTHP Director of Professional Issues and Innovation Initiative Project Director at riftcol@aol.com or 401-273-9800.