One would think based on how teacher evaluations are discussed in the media that there must be one correct answer and that the challenge is to decide, in an algebraic fashion which variables in what quantities equate to an effective teacher. The truth of the matter is, that there are as many methods to evaluate teachers as there are educational philosophies. The most widely used instruments measure an educator’s performance across different domains and are engineered in a way that a final rating hinges on a variety of factors insuring that a shortcoming in one area does not result in a poor rating. In New York City, the three most commonly used methods are: the Advance Evaluation System, the Kim Marshall Rubric, and the Consortium of Essential Schools Benchmarks.
The Advance Evaluation System is the mostly widely used and is the system currently used in most New York City public schools. There are three components to this system: Measure of Teacher Practice and Measure of Student Learning and a Student Survey. The system incorporates eight out of the twenty-two components of the Danielson Framework for Teaching and standardized test scores. Teachers decided how many times an administrator will visit their room and if those visits will be prearranged “formal” visits, or spontaneous “informal”’ visits.
The Measure of Student Learning is broken down into two sections: the local and state measures. The local measures ties teachers to the growth of the students they directly teach across content areas. The state measure ties all student growth to all teachers within a school, across all assessment methods. These measure account for fifteen percent of a teacher’s rating. The final piece of the evaluation, which is not being weighed this year, is a Student Survey.
The second evaluation tool is the Kim Marshall rubric which is used in some independent charter schools. Similar to the Danielson rubric in the Advance system, the Marshall rubric is broken down into six domains. Each of the six domains is deconstructed further to include ten categories which a teacher is rated on based on a scale of one to four ranging from does not meet standard to highly effective. The rubric is used during a series of short, informal observations, with a minimum of ten visits a year. After each visit, the administrator meets with the teacher to discuss the observation and coach as necessary. Administrators may choose to use student data to supplement their observation data. The Kim Marshall rubric does not include a testing component.
The third evaluation system is the one used by the Coalition of Essential Schools. Unlike the other two methods, the Benchmark system is directly related to the values and educational philosophy of this subset of public schools. These beliefs (or Benchmarks) are: culturally responsive pedagogy, differentiated instruction, essential questions, habits of mind & heart, interdisciplinary curriculum, performance-based assessment, student-centered teaching and learning. Many of these schools receive testing waivers, freeing their students from all standardized exams except for the English Regents. As a result, testing results do not play a role is teacher evaluation. Teachers working in essential schools are evaluated on each Benchmark with observations being conducted by fellow teachers as well as administrators. The Benchmark cycle is made up of three parts: a pre-observation conversation, the ‘formal’ observation, and the post-observation conference.
The protocol for the pre-observation allows the teacher to identify areas which they are interested in developing and a related specific purpose for the visit. After the purpose of the visit has been identified, the host teacher gives an overview of the course, the focus of that day’s lesson, and what they hope to gain from the experience. The next step for the protocol allows for the host teacher and observer to brainstorm about each of these identified areas and what evidence should be collected to support the presence or absence of each.
The protocol for the post-observation meeting calls for the observer to report on the data collected during the visit. The next step is an in-depth look at student work where the observer and host teacher look at successful learning outcomes, a period of reflection for the host teacher, and a discussion of next instructional steps. The host teacher is then allowed to ask questions and respond to student work, which is then followed by recommendations by the observer. Lastly, the observation cycle closes with a debrief about the observation process.
Christine Nick, Associate Director