2011 Identifying Effective Teachers Policy
The state should require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
Washington does not require that objective evidence of student learning be the preponderant criterion of its teacher evaluations.
The state sets minimum criteria for teacher evaluations, including centering instruction on high expectations for student achievement, demonstrating effective teaching practices and using multiple student data elements to modify instruction and improve student learning. When applicable student growth data is referenced in the evaluation process, it must be based on multiple measures that can include classroom-based, school-based, district-based and state-based tools.
Classroom observations are required, and the new evaluation tool employs a four-level ranking system.
Pilot programs are currently being conducted, with full implementation required by the 2013-2014 school year.
Require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
Although Washington's new evaluation system is a step in the right direction, 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.
Although Washington 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.
Washington recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.