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Seeking Tangible Results for Effective Teaching

Hillsborough County (Fla.) Public Schools embarks on its second year of collecting data for grant project from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
New teacher evaluation techniques, such as digital video recording, have been implemented in Hillsborough County (Fla.) Public Schools as part of a national study.

With one year under its belt, Hillsborough County (Fla.) Public Schools embarks on its second school year of collecting data to evaluate teacher effectiveness. The two-year project, currently underway in five other districts nationwide, began in fall 2009 with a Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The data collection strategies include digital video recording, student assessments, student surveys, and teacher surveys. This data—combined with figures from other districts—will ultimately be used to generate a more effective model for measuring teacher effectiveness.

The MET project works in conjunction with the Empowering Effective Teaching (EET) grant at Hillsborough. The data collected through the MET project will be used to inform the EET initiative to develop a more comprehensive evaluation system, improve professional development and to focus on the recruitment and retention of effective teachers.

Hillsborough's new evaluation system, which will begin this fall, is based on 30 percent principal evaluations, 30 percent expert teacher or peer evaluations, and 40 percent student achievement. Through this data, says Tracye Brown, director of communications and project management with the EET program at the Hillsborough district, researchers can pinpoint the practices and characteristics of an effective teacher.

The current political climate has put a focus on teacher evaluations and is driving much of the change being seen, says Adriane Dorrington, senior policy analyst with the Teacher Quality Department at the National Education Association.

Although all teachers in Hillsborough will be evaluated on this new system, they will have the option of participating in a new compensation model in 2013 after three years of student achievement data has been collected to determine if it would be most advantageous to them. "Researchers will be able to look at this data to define effective teaching and provide educators and policymakers with information as to how they can be used to develop models for evaluating and rewarding teachers," says Faychone Durant, MET project director at Hillsborough.