The state should require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
South Carolina does not require that objective evidence of student learning be the preponderant criterion of its teacher evaluations.
The state requires local districts to use the statewide evaluation system (ADEPT), which is designed to measure teachers' success in meeting the state's 10 performance standards, or to use a district evaluation instrument that is state-approved and equivalent to the state instrument's expectation. These 10 standards fall under four domains: planning, instruction, classroom environment and professionalism, which are all designed to measure a teacher's ability to improve student achievement. The performance standards mostly consider teachers' behavior and practices. The state added a "unit work sample" to bolster evidence of teachers' impact on student achievement; however, it does not appear that this is collected and reviewed in a way that would characterize it as objective evidence. Classroom observations are required.
Require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
Although South Carolina requires some evidence of student achievement, it is not clear whether the state requires objective evidence of student achievement for all teacher evaluations.
South Carolina 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.
Although South Carolina commendably requires classroom observations as part of teacher evaluations, the state should articulate guidelines that focus classroom observations on 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, South Carolina 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.
South Carolina asserted that its new superintendent is working with the legislature to create a fair and effective educator performance pay system. In the meantime, nearly 50 schools are participating as TAP schools using value-added assessment (VAA) to measure educator effectiveness. Further, schools receiving School Improvement Grants (SIG) and state technical assistance for low performance are required to infuse a performance attribute into their evaluation and compensation system.
South Carolina also contended that ADEPT classroom observations focus on effectiveness of instruction, and that the ADEPT performance standards are being revised to include multiple levels of effectiveness for each standard and key indicator.