2017 General Teacher Prep Programs Policy
The state should ensure that teacher evaluations are well-structured to appropriately assess professional practice. This goal was new in 2017.
Observations: Massachusetts requires that all teachers are observed in the classroom.
Use of Surveys: Massachusetts requires the use of "student feedback" to evaluate teachers.
Evaluator Training: Massachusetts requires teacher evaluator training; however, it does not further require certification or a process to ensure inter-rater reliability.
Multiple and/or Third-Party Observers: Massachusetts state policy is silent on whether multiple and/or third-party observers must be used to evaluate teachers.
603 CMR 35.00
Require all teacher evaluators to be both trained and certified.
Massachusetts should require that all teacher evaluators in the state are trained and certified to evaluate teachers. Doing so will help ensure that teacher evaluation systems are fairly and reliably implemented across districts and the state.
Require the use of multiple observers or third-party observers with subject-matter expertise.
Massachusetts should require teachers to be observed multiple times by more than one observer. Research demonstrates that observations by peers and other observers with subject-matter knowledge are valid and reliable, whereas a principal's role as both instructional leader and summative judge may inhibit his or her ability to reliably serve as the sole evaluator.
Massachusetts stated that it is committed to providing a comprehensive set of resources for districts and has developed two comprehensive training programs that support educator evaluation implementation: training modules for evaluators and training workshops for teachers. These resources provide an overview of the statewide evaluation framework. "We strongly believe it is best for districts to implement evaluation systems that are grounded in local context. Therefore, districts have the option to supplement or adapt these materials to align with local priorities and local evaluation systems."
Massachusetts also indicated that it has expended a great number of resources to support calibration activities. It noted that this type of professional learning helps both evaluators and educators norm their expectations to ensure that all educators experience a meaningful evaluation experience. "Evaluators want to deliver high-quality, actionable feedback just as much as educators want to receive it. Calibrating expectations for educator practice and deepening collective knowledge of strategies that can help educators grow is integral to sustaining an evaluation process that will strengthen educator practice and improve student learning."
7B: Measures of Professional Practice
Observations serve several purposes, including to provide actionable feedback to teachers and to provide a summative rating that can be used in staffing decisions. Observations can be a rich source of information for teachers, giving them useful feedback to improve their practice.
Multiple data sources should be used in teacher evaluation, including multiple observations by more than one observer. Teacher observations conducted by principals that occur once or twice a year and consist of rating teachers on observable behaviors and characteristics have not proved valid. Research widely finds that the nature of their role as both instructional leaders and summative judges inhibits principals' ability to reliably serve as evaluators. In contrast, observations conducted by peers and other observers with subject knowledge are valid and reliable. Additionally, teacher observations are more effective when they occur in tandem with aligned professional development.
Observations are especially important for new teachers. In the absence of good metrics for determining who will be an effective teacher before he or she begins to teach, it is critical that schools and districts closely monitor the performance of new teachers. States should specifically require that new teachers receive an observation early in the school year. Early feedback may be especially essential for new teachers, given that teachers' performance in their first year is a strong predictor of their performance in later years.
Student reports of teacher quality are a unique and largely untapped source of rich data. Research finds that student input on teacher quality adds value to teacher evaluation systems. Research also finds teachers prefer evaluation systems that include student survey data. Students' first-hand reports of classroom elements (e.g., textbooks, homework, instruction), teacher-student communication, assignments, and daily classroom operations may provide teachers with credible information about their impact in the classroom, as well as serve as a tool for formative evaluation. Student perceptions of learning environments can be reliable and predictive of learning. Including student surveys in teacher evaluation systems strengthens the ability to identify teachers' effects on outcomes beyond standardized test scores. In addition, teacher evaluation systems that include student survey data, which are somewhat correlated with teachers' student growth measures, are stronger, more reliable, and more valid than those that rely solely on administrator reports and observations.