The state should require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
Kansas does not require that objective evidence of student learning be the preponderant criterion of its teacher evaluations.
According to state policy, local school boards, school administrators and teachers are charged with developing a school district's teacher evaluation instrument. However, the state does require consideration of student learning. Its policy states that the instrument must include consideration of the teacher's "results and performance, including improvement in the academic performance of pupils or students," as well as consideration of other attributes such as efficiency, personal qualities and professionalism. While it would appear that the state intends for local districts to consider objective measures, the language here is too ambiguous to ensure that districts will follow suit.
Further, it does not appear that Kansas specifically requires classroom observations.
Kansas Statutes 72-9004
Require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
Although Kansas requires that local districts consider student performance when evaluating teachers, it falls short by failing to require that evidence of student learning be the most significant criterion. The state should either require a common evaluation instrument in which evidence of student learning is the most significant criterion, or it should specifically require that student learning be the preponderant criterion in local evaluation processes. This can be accomplished by requiring objective evidence to count for at least half of the evaluation score or through other scoring mechanisms, such as a matrix, that ensure that nothing affects the overall score more. Whether state or locally developed, a teacher should not be able to receive a satisfactory rating if found ineffective in the classroom.
Ensure that classroom observations specifically focus on and document the effectiveness of instruction.
Kansas should not only require that its evaluations include classroom observations, but also the state should specifically articulate that these observations focus on effectiveness of instruction. The primary component of a classroom observation should be the quality of instruction, as measured by student time on task, student grasp or mastery of the lesson objective and efficient use of class time.
Utilize rating categories that meaningfully differentiate among various levels of teacher performance.
To ensure that the evaluation instrument accurately differentiates among levels of teacher performance, Kansas should require districts to utilize multiple rating categories, such as highly effective, effective, needs improvement and ineffective. A binary system that merely categorizes teachers as satisfactory or unsatisfactory is inadequate.
Kansas asserted that it is currently piloting its Educator Evaluator Protocol (KEEP), which makes the connections discussed in this goal. The state added that a data web-based environment accompanies this instrument and prepopulates student data over time to the teacher being evaluated.