Teacher Evaluations Get Reconstructed
Principal observes teacher for 50 minutes. Principal completes checklist. Principal tells teacher what she needs to work on. Dublin City (Ohio) Schools did away with this archaic method of teacher evaluation in the 2009-2010 school year and put the emphasis on teacher self-assessment, professional learning and student-growth data after developing a tailor-made teacher evaluation tool with the help of a committee of teachers, administrators and the teachers union.
“When we used the checklist model, we were not giving documented recommendations for teacher improvement, and we weren’t helping our teachers grow. With the new teacher evaluation tool, teachers start the conversation with things they need to work on and what they need to do to improve,” says DCS superintendent of five years, David Axner.
The district was able to make a smooth transition to the new teacher evaluation tool thanks to a strong rapport with the union. DCS was already working on the new teacher evaluation system when Ohio received Race to the Top funds in August of 2010. As a recipient of grant money, DCS would have ultimately needed to develop a teacher evaluation system linked to student-growth measures, but because the district is ahead of the game, it can use the funds to refine the process.
“Dublin’s RTTT commitments include the use of multiple, valid progress measures in all subject areas and grade levels to be included in a teacher’s evaluation,” says Jamie Meade, director of data and assess ment. “Teachers are currently working collaboratively to develop progress measures in all subjects and grade levels.”
Meade adds that the new evaluation takes much work, but the teachers take ownership. “It’s created a culture with an emphasis on professional learning,” says Meade.
This culture has helped DCS become the highest-achieving district in central Ohio, and Axner believes it’s due to their focus on data and performance. The district works to conduct multiple measures of student data across the school year. Students take a baseline assessment at the beginning of the year and at the midpoint, and that performance is measured against where they should be by the end of year. This data is stored in Mastery Manager, a testing and reporting solution.
“You can watch the value-added growth of students from one year to the next. Teachers can look at a three-year trend to compare how their students are doing in comparison to their colleagues’ former students,” boasts Axner. DCS teachers diagnose professional learning for themselves through action plans to improve student growth.
Half of a teacher’s evaluation comes from student-growth measures, and the other half is based on an administrator’s observation and teacher’s self-assessment. “Ohio’s value-added metric will be employed based upon data from the state’s reading and writing math assessments for grades 4 to 8,” says Meade.
The state has not defined how much growth is expected in the nontested value-added subjects, such as music and art.
Summer Leadership Academy
Over 300 teachers volunteer their time for two days over the summer to evaluate student data from end-of-year state assessments. Dubbed “Leadership Academy,” teachers use this time to map out goals for the upcoming school year and decide what kind of professional learning they need based on the student data. Dublin’s methods have been shared with other districts, and Axner says the Ohio Department of Education is considering the evaluation tool for statewide adoption. It’s now required by law to have teacher evaluations aligned to Standards for Ohio Educators. DCS adopted the standards-based tool before it was mandatory.
Dublin City (Ohio) Schools
- Superintendent: David Axner, 5 years
- Students: 14,400
- Schools: 19
- Staff: 1,800
- District size: 47 sq. miles
- Students receiving free or reduced-price lunches: 14%
- Per-pupil expenditure: $12,881
- Web site: www.dublinschools.net
Courtney Williams is products editor.