Observing Classroom Practice
An article by Charlotte Danielson in the November edition of Educational Leadership—Teacher Evaluation: What's Fair? What's Effective? Pages 32-37
Classroom observations can foster teacher learning—if observation systems include crucial components and observers know what to look for.
Read the article online.
Download a PDF of the article.
Regional Training in Pennsylvania
Arcadia University will be hosting a 3-day Framework for Teaching workshop at their King of Prussia, PA campus.
Arcadia University and the Danielson Group have teamed up to offer an Institute with online follow-up for teachers looking to incorporate Charlotte Danielson's Framework for Teaching.
The 3-day Institute at Arcadia’s King of Prussia Campus will be held June 25, 26 and 27 and will provide participants foundational information and tools to begin working on collaborative observations using the Framework. Days will run from 9:00am to 3:00pm with an hour break for lunch. Participants have the option of a 3-day workshop (cost $599/person) OR taking an additional 4-week online course to receive 3 graduate credits (cost $1,809/person).
For more information and to register, contact: Beth Specker, Director of Educational Initiatives, Arcadia University.
Glenside Office: 267-620-4796
King of Prussia Office: 484-804-2323
Download a flyer with additional information HERE.
Regional Training in Wisconsin
University of Wisconsin-Baraboo/Sauk County will be hosting an Introduction to the Framework for Teaching one-day workshop
Designed for those unfamiliar with the framework, this session provides background and the research foundation for using the Framework to enhance professional practice in different applications: teacher preparation, mentoring and induction, professional development, and teacher evaluation. Participants explore the themes within the framework and become familiar with the components, their organizational structure, and are introduced to the rubrics that guide improving professional practice.
Intended audience: K-12 teachers, teacher leaders, mentors, coaches, administrators, supervisors, evaluators, pre-service teachers, Education Faculty
This workshop will be led by Teresa Lien, National Consultant, The Danielson Group
Workshop will be held Tuesday July 31, 9am-4:00pm University of Wisconsin-Baraboo/Sauk County
Fee is $149 per person which includes lunch
For more information or to register for the workshop contact Cindy McVenes Director of Continuing Education,
608-355-5234 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Registration deadline July 1, 2012
AASA Summer Leadership Institute
The AASA Summer Leadership Institute, featuring Charlotte Danielson, will be in Baltimore, MD June 28-29, 2012.
Location: Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel, Baltimore, MD
The 2012 American Association of School Administrators Summer Leadership Institute will be held June 28-29, 2012 at the Renaissance Harbor Hotel in Baltimore, MD. This year’s featured speakers are Diane Ravitch, Research Professor of Education at New York University and a historian of education, Douglas Reeves, founder of The Leadership and Learning Center and Charlotte Danielson, author of The Framework for Teaching. The institute will focus on ESEA, teacher and administrator evaluations, assessment and accountability. You will hear from researchers in the field and practitioners on the ground. Bring back to your school district the latest information to guide your work for the coming year. Join us for this exciting event at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, MD.
Register Online or Download the registration form
You Don't Know Charlotte
While the rest of the nation is embracing Charlotte Danielson’s framework for evaluating teachers, much of the Garden State is just getting to know this New Jersey resident.
ROCK STAR. That’s the kind of phrase people who work with Charlotte Danielson use to describe her. Danielson – a New Jersey-based economist turned teacher turned school administrator, who turned into an author and consultant whose writings are shaping teacher assessments nationwide – seems to have cultivated that acclaim within educational circles. At least, that’s the perception outside of New Jersey.
“What’s the phrase from the Bible? … ‘A prophet has no honor in his own country,’” said Catherine Thomas, a coordinator at The Danielson Group, the Princeton-based consulting firm founded by Danielson that trains local and state education officials about her educational philosophies.
Danielson herself jokes about any suggestion of celebrity outside of New Jersey, saying, “They say that you’re only an expert when you’re 50 miles away from home.”
Sure, Danielson’s concepts are used in scores of cities from New York to Chicago to L.A., and she’s been tapped as a principal consultant by education departments in at least eight states, ranging from Arkansas and Washington to Pennsylvania and Idaho. Sure, she’s consulted for entire nations, such as Portugal, Chile and the United Arab Emirates. And sure, Education Week magazine’s online bloggers have called Danielson a “teacher eval guru” whose framework has become “wildly popular.”
But to say she’s been entirely snubbed by her home state is a bit of a stretch. In New Jersey, she has consulted with the state Department of Education not only on improvements to the alternate route program for teachers, but also on the design and implementation of a new teacher-evaluation pilot program dubbed Excellent Educators for New Jersey, or “EE4NJ,” which involves 11 districts. Some other districts like Cherry Hill have been using Danielson’s teacher-evaluation concepts for years.
While there are many New Jersey education leaders still unfamiliar with Danielson, her framework for evaluating teachers is now gaining traction in the Garden State – especially with Gov. Chris Christie’s effort to make measuring teacher effectiveness a centerpiece of his administration’s education reform agenda, including tenure reform.
Genesis to breakthrough
Danielson traveled a crooked road to get where she is today. Born in West Virginia, her family moved to Princeton during high school. She graduated from Cornell with a degree in history – specializing in Chinese history, actually – and then went to Oxford University to earn her master’s in philosophy, politics and economics. Twelve years later, in 1978, she earned another master’s from Rutgers in educational administration and supervision. After college, she worked as a junior economist in think tanks and policy organizations. While working in Washington, D.C., she got to know some of the children living on her inner-city block – and that’s what motivated her to choose teaching over economics. She obtained her teaching credentials and began work in her neighborhood elementary school.
She and her husband moved to New Jersey, where she worked her way up the spectrum from teacher to curriculum director, then on to staff developer and program designer in several different locations, including ETS in Princeton, and a developer and trainer for teacher observation and assessments. Those experiences shaped her vision of teacher evaluations.
The breakthrough for Danielson was her book, Enhancing Professional Practice: A Framework for Teaching, originally published in 1996. “Framework for Teaching,” as it’s often referred to, was one of several of her books published through the Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development.
“I didn’t create a ‘program,’” Danielson insists. “What I did is describe good teaching. That’s all I did.” Still, her book was seen as a tool for educators to understand and analyze the complexities of teaching, and it ultimately became the foundation for many teacher evaluations worldwide.
Under Danielson’s program…er, framework…the qualities of good teachers fall into four domains: Planning and preparation, school environment, instruction, and professional responsibilities. Under those domains are 22 components, such as “demonstrating content knowledge” and “managing student behavior.”
Branching from those components are dozens of descriptions designed to help teachers clearly understand their level of expertise on a four-point scale from “unsatisfactory” to “distinguished.” For instance, when it comes to a teacher’s interaction with students, is the teacher sarcastic or inappropriate? (unsatisfactory)…generally good, but occasionally exhibiting inconsistent behavior like showing favoritism or disregarding student cultures? (basic)…friendly and showing care and respect? (proficient) … or reflecting genuine respect to the point where students seem to trust the teacher with sensitive information? (distinguished).
The concept of utilizing trained observers is key to Danielson’s framework. “I’ve never known a union activist who is opposed to the idea of evaluations. But they are opposed to bad evaluations,” she said. “It’s a fundamental principle of equity that anyone making a high-stakes judgment should actually be capable of doing it accurately and consistently.”
She added, “To suggest you can go into a classroom for five minutes with a little checklist and decide whether someone should get tenure is absurd.”
While Cherry Hill’s evaluation was never that simplistic, it has evolved dramatically since the district adopted Danielson’s framework nine years ago.
Before that time, classroom observations consisted of a narrative report written by an observer after a lesson, said Stanley Sheckman, a Cherry Hill principal who was with the district when it changed its teacher-evaluation system in 2003. The annual performance report was generally a single page with a checklist that gave the options of “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”
“There was little collaboration in this process,” Sheckman added.
Cherry Hill’s revamped system blended Danielson’s framework with learning principles from other experts such as Lauren B. Resnick, an educational psychologist from the University of Pittsburgh. The district’s updated model requires the observer to identify key aspects of the lesson, the classroom environment, and teacher-student interaction. After the observation, the administrator and teacher meet for a collaborative discussion. The teacher is also required to write a personal reflection after each observation.
That element of “personal reflection” on the part of the teacher is an important part of Danielson’s framework. “It’s not a fancy concept,” she said. “It’s where the teacher takes an active role intellectually in the evaluation process, rather than being a passive recipient in someone else’s feedback.”
But that two-way dialogue seems to ring well with many teachers and administrators. “I’m hearing so many teachers say, ‘Going through this process, I’ve learned so much about myself,’” said Laura Morana, Red Bank Borough superintendent, adding that the framework “calls for a lot of reflection – and a lot of honest reflection.” Morana said teachers are asked how well they know their children, and how they see themselves as a vehicle to promote the development of the children.
Like Cherry Hill, Red Bank instituted Danielson’s framework in a modified form several years ago. This school year, Red Bank has incorporated the framework on a full-scale level and is now one of the 11 districts in the state pilot program for teacher evaluations.
Before instituting the changes, “We didn’t have the tools to go into the classroom to determine whether effective teaching was taking place,” said Morana. So Morana reached out to Danielson directly, and Danielson’s consultants were soon working in the district.
Morana has seen improvements: Greater consistency in evaluations and increased positive feedback from teachers. “We certainly learned of the power of establishing a common language to describe the art of teaching – and learning,” said Morana. “It’s not always about teaching; it’s about learning, too.”
Obstacles? A commitment of time is one. Morana said the more thorough evaluations are “a time-demanding effort.” And Sheckman in Cherry Hill notes that continual training and retraining of administrators and teachers is necessary to provide consistency.
Training the evaluators
Sheckman’s point is one emphasized by Danielson time and again: Evaluators need to demonstrate they know their stuff. “The minute this is high stakes – and certainly compensation would qualify as high stakes, as would dismissal or denial of tenure – it’s enormously important that anyone making the judgment demonstrate that they are capable of doing so, that they will be accurate, reliable and valid,” said Danielson.
“If the school district cannot guarantee that, they’re going to get challenged, and I think they’re going to get challenged in court,” she added. “School boards and superintendents have to be alert to this possibility of legal challenge to the evaluative judgments made by administrators, and they better have an answer to it. The best answer to this challenge is to have a process for training and certifying evaluators, so superintendents and school boards can have confidence in their judgments.”
The Big Questions
Danielson doesn’t claim to know all the answers. “Our understanding of what constitutes good teaching has evolved, and will continue to evolve,” she said. “Anyone claiming to be an expert should also recognize that.”
When it comes to teacher evaluations, it sometimes seems there are two camps. On one side are the people who say teaching is more of an art that can’t be measured accurately. On the other side are those who say every other job is measured, and the pay is tied to performance, so there should be no special mystery about teaching. Danielson sees both sides.
“Teaching is enormously complex work, and anyone who doesn’t appreciate that hasn’t tried it,” she said. “On the other hand, we do know what is good teaching. It’s not that it’s an art form and there is no answer as to what good teaching is, and that you can’t measure it. Of course you can. You use complex assessment systems, like for any complex performance.”
But one of the big debates revolves around the use of student assessments to measure teacher salaries. In fact, one of the directives of the 11-district pilot program is to base part of the teacher evaluations on “learning outcomes” that include progress on statewide assessments such as the NJ ASK.
“In general, the degree of student learning is an indication of the quality of teaching,” Danielson stated. “No one, no teacher or even union activist, would disagree with that.” But the tricky part is deciding what counts as evidence, and how that evidence can be attributed to individual teachers. For instance, a third grade teacher’s student scores in reading might increase. But what if there’s a reading specialist in the building? How much of the increase do you attribute to the teacher? And there are numerous other variables that can make it hard to base teacher assessments on students’ test scores. “Until those issues are sorted out,” Danielson said, “I don’t think high-stakes decisions should be based on student learning results.”
Then, of course, there’s merit pay. It’s the $64,000 question. In New Jersey, which spends more per student than any other state, it’s more accurately the $24.7 billion dollar question. That’s how much New Jersey spent on public education last school year, according to the National Education Association’s most recent Rankings & Estimates report. Linking teacher evaluations to pay is a high-stakes issue, especially when one considers that, easily, three-fourths of a typical school district’s budget goes toward salaries and benefits. So how does a school district go about connecting pay with performance?
Again, Danielson doesn’t claim to have the solution to sorting out how to link teacher evaluations with performance pay. “I honestly don’t have an answer to that,” she said. “I understand people are looking for something. It’s nowhere close to my area of expertise.”
But there’s one area that worries her: When she hears of her methods being misapplied. “When people take my book, and use it in a very top-down punitive way as kind of a hammer to teachers, I regret that a lot,” she said. In short, she described it as swapping an old teacher-evaluation “gotcha” system with a new one.
t’s a Thursday morning in January, and about 100 people are gathered for a daylong program at Rider University in Lawrence. The people are members of the EE4NJ Evaluation Pilot Advisory Committee, which is collaborating with representatives from the 11 pilot school districts. Their charge is to provide the state Department of Education with a report by the end of June, giving recommendations on how New Jersey should proceed with a statewide teacher evaluation system.
The morning’s speaker is Danielson, who’s accompanied by Mark Atkinson, founder of the company that created the technology and software to train the people who evaluate teachers. The two speak for well over an hour and a half, diligently answering any and all questions from the audience. But she can’t stay for the remainder of the daylong program … she needs to catch a train to Washington, D.C.
Charlotte Danielson is off to her next gig.
Michael Yaple is public affairs officer at NJSBA.
Published in NJ School Boards Association: School Leader, January/February 2012
An Evaluation Architect Says Teaching Is Hard, but Assessing It Shouldn't Be
SchoolBook visited Ms. Danielson in Princeton, N.J., where she has a private education consulting practice, and followed up with a telephone call. Here are highlights from the interviews ...
Sixteen years ago, Charlotte Danielson, an Oxford-trained economist, developed a description of good teaching that became the foundation for attempts by federal and state officials and school districts to quantify teacher performance.
The Danielson method — articulated in her book, “Enhancing Professional Practice: A Framework for Teaching” (ASCD, 2007) — describes good teaching using numerous criteria within four broad areas of performance: the quality of questions and discussion techniques; a knowledge of students’ special needs; the expectations set for learning and achievement; and the teacher’s involvement in professional development activities.
“If all you do is judge teachers by test results,” Ms. Danielson told Ginia Bellafante in an interview for a Big City column in the Metropolitan section of The New York Times last month, “it doesn’t tell you what you should do differently.”
As the standoff over adoption of a teacher evaluation system moves toward an Albany-style showdown this week, both the teachers’ unions and state and district officials in New York largely agree on the Danielson method, but are struggling over its implementation.
Ms. Danielson, a West Virginia native, studied history at Cornell before doing graduate work at Oxford. She spent five years working as an economist with Chatham House in London, the Council of Economic Advisers in Washington and other organizations before making the leap to teaching.
Read the interview HERE.
News for Oklahoma Educators
The Danielson Framework for Teaching has been selected by Oklahoma Department of Education as an approved model for teacher evaluation.
To help districts implement the Framework for Teaching, Charlotte Danielson is partnered with Teachscape to offer an integrated, robust, and fair observation and evaluation system. Join an upcoming webinar with Charlotte Danielson to better understand the Framework for Teaching, the validity of the instrument and why a district should select The Framework.
Oklahoma State-Specific Webinar Sessions
Offered 2/10, 2/13 and 2/27.
Here are other ways you can learn more about the Framework for Teaching Evaluation Instrument and Teachscape’s observation & evaluation tools.
For more in-depth discussion, join Charlotte Danielson & Mark Atkinson for a session before the AASA National conference in Houston, TX on February 16th. Learn more.
Visit Teachscape's Oklahoma website here.
Teacher Evaluator Training & Certification: Lessons Learned from the Measures of Effective Teaching Project
The goal of the Practitioner Series is to share its learnings from the MET project, in order to support district leaders and state-level policymakers in the implementation of new, impactful teacher evaluation systems.
In its October 31, 2011, Issue Brief entitled Preparing Principals to Evaluate Teachers, the National Governors Association made an urgent appeal to the nation’s governors to take immediate steps “to ensure principals have the time they need to adequately train, become certified, and practice conducting evaluations before evaluation results are used to make high-stakes decisions.”
This paper recommends the following considerations be given to the design and implementation of programs to train and certify principals to conduct high-stakes teacher evaluations:
Training programs must prepare principals and other classroom observers to understand the difference between bias, interpretation, and evidence.
It is necessary but insufficient to teach observers the design and instructional philosophy behind the classroom observation instrument they will use to make high-stakes decisions about classroom teachers. The training must also require observers to accurately apply their knowledge of the instrument and demonstrate their ability to accurately score lessons from the range of grade levels and subjects that they will ultimately be expected to evaluate.
An essential component of any training program is exemplar videos of classroom lessons that have been pre-scored by certified instrument experts, if not by the instrument’s author.
Because all classroom observation instruments are high-inference assessments, it is best to have more than one video illustrating “benchmark” performance on each score point on the rubric associated with the observation instrument. It is also important to have high and low “rangefinder” videos, in order to make clear to the trainee what the difference might be between a score at the high end of one performance level and a score at the low end of the next performance level on a particular rubric.
There is no better training than authentic scoring practice. Whether using software or live classroom teaching with experts, good observer training will provide the opportunity to score authentic lessons and receive instant feedback from experts on the “true” scores for those lessons, along with explanations as to why the trainee’s scores were correct or incorrect.
Certification tests should assess the ability of the observer to replicate the scores of the instrument experts when observing a range of lessons in various grade/subject combinations.
Certification tests should not only assess the ability of the observer to score accurately; they should also test the ability of the observer to get the right score for the right reason. This means observers must have the proper observation skills to collect all of the evidence from classroom practice that is relevant to each component of the scoring rubric they will use.
Certification tests must assess the ability of the observer to differentiate between bias, interpretation, and evidence.
These recommendations and other findings emerged from Teachscape’s work with Educational Testing Service on the Measures of Effective Teaching project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Download the white paper here.
More Agreement Than Disagreement on How To Assess Teachers
NY Times: Charlotte Danielson, an economist, developed a method for evaluating teachers that has generated a great deal of consensus.
"...a great deal of consensus lies is around the ideas of a woman named Charlotte Danielson, who 16 years ago created a method for evaluating teachers that judges them according to four domains, each with numerous categories and subcategories: the quality of questions and discussion techniques; a knowledge of students’ special needs; the expectations set for learning and achievement; and the teacher’s involvement in professional development activities. The section for assessing the strength of the classroom-learning environment has 15 criteria — down to the placement of furniture.
Ms. Danielson’s program, which also trains principals in how to properly execute the evaluations, is already being used in several states and on a pilot basis in 140 New York City schools (though in the experimental phase the outcomes will have no consequence). In November, a study out of the University of Chicago that looked at Ms. Danielson’s method as it was practiced in Chicago schools determined that it was not only a considerable improvement over an old evaluation system but that, just as significant, it established a shared definition of what good teaching was.
Ms. Danielson, who runs her own educational consulting firm in Princeton, N.J., is perfectly suited to appeal to potentially opposing sides in the debates about education reform. As an Oxford-trained economist, she thinks both entrepreneurially and progressively. In the late 1960s she gave up research stints at the Council of Economic Advisers and the Brookings Institution to work as a teacher in Washington’s ailing public school system.
“If all you do is judge teachers by test results,” she told me when I visited her this week, “it doesn’t tell you what you should do differently.”
Michael Mulgrew, the president of the United Federation of Teachers, speaks about Ms. Danielson almost as though he were producing an infomercial for her. “I taught for 13 years, and I would have loved to have been trained in this method,” he said. “I have no doubt it would have made me a better teacher.”
Read the entire article here.
Training Opportunity in Milwaukee
The School District of West Allis West Milwaukee is conducting a series of Danielson Group trainings - open to the public.
For information regarding all workshops, please contact:
the School District of West Allis West Milwaukee
1205 South 70th Street, Milwaukee, WI 53214
Kristen Gurtner, Director of Human Resources
Introduction to the Framework for Teaching (1 day workshop)
1 full day, 8AM - 4PM
February 21, 2012
$135 per participant, including lunch
All participants must have a copy of Enhancing Professional Practice: A Framework for Teaching, 2007 by Charlotte Danielson
Observation Skills Workshop (2 day workshop)
2 full days, 8AM - 4PM
March 29-30, 2012 OR April 18-19, 2012
$135 per participant, per day, including lunch
All participants must have a copy of Enhancing Professional Practice: A Framework for Teaching, 2007 by Charlotte Danielson and have attended a 1-day Introduction to the Framework workshop
How Should You Judge Your Teachers?
Vitriolic public debate, union resistance, and gut feelings. How to balance these factors to create a fair teacher-evaluation system.
"Florida appears to be in the vanguard of the fight over teacher quality. The Sunshine State’s new law, opposed by many educators, mandates that performance be based 50 percent on test scores, ends tenure for new teachers, and ties performance to pay. Still, with the federal Race to the Top program requiring states to measure teacher effectiveness, and a number of other state legislatures passing or considering reforms, the issue of designing, or redesigning, evaluation systems is facing school districts across the country.
The big question is this: How do you effectively, and fairly, take the measure of a teacher?
First, says Charlotte Danielson, a Princeton, New Jersey–based educational consultant and expert on teacher quality and evaluation, administrators and other stakeholders need to get clarity and consensus on what good teaching is. “I’ve heard principals say, ‘I can’t really define it, but I know it when I see it,’” she says. “We can do a lot better than that.”
Read the entire article here.
Measures of Effective Teaching Study
How can effective teaching be identified and developed?The Measures of Effective Teaching
project aims to find out. The Danielson Framework for Teaching is prominently featured in this research.
The MET project is a partnership between 3,000 teacher volunteers and dozens of independent research teams. The project aims to help teachers and schools understand what great teaching looks like. Launched in 2009, the study identifies multiple measures (including the Framework for Teaching) and tools that – taken together – can provide an accurate and reliable picture of teaching effectiveness.
The MET Study has recently released preliminary findings in the report: Gathering Feedback for Teaching: Policy and Practice Brief.
EdTech Digest Awards for Outstanding Contributions in Transforming Education
Charlotte Danielson wins Visionary award
Along with Teachscape (a Danielson Group partner), Charlotte Danielson, author of the Framework for Teaching, won in the Visionary subcategory. Read more.
Portland District, union blaze a trail to teacher improvement
Evaluation process avoids political hot potato of test scores
Julie Pedersen’s performance evaluation from last year is stuffed in her classroom drawer somewhere — she doesn’t look at it much.
“It’s basically meaningless,” says the teacher of 12 years at Northeast Portland’s Jason Lee K-8 School. “It didn’t give me specific examples of how I could improve.”
That’s been the status quo in Portland Public Schools for 30 years, meaning that any talk of improving classroom teaching and learning has been toothless without a means of getting there.
That’s all set to change this month.
Principals at every PPS school are debuting the new evaluation system that district leaders and the Portland Association of Teachers collaboratively hammered out this past year in an unprecedented display of unity.
“It’s so important teachers feel like we’re being respected and this is not just coming from the top down, but something we have a voice in,” says Pedersen, who helped train her building colleagues in the new system ...
The first evaluations are happening this month; principals will hand them in to PPS leaders just before winter break.
The new tool adopts the work of Charlotte Danielson, a New Jersey-based education consultant, called “Enhancing Professional Practice: A Framework for Teaching.”
Read entire article
The Teacher-Principal Alliance
Last week the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute released a report entitled “Rethinking Teacher Evaluation in Chicago: Lessons Learned from Classroom Observations, Principal-Teacher Conferences, and District Implementation.” The report is clearly written, supported by both statistical and anecdotal evidence, and altogether a bright ray of sunshine. It should be required reading for districts attempting to change or improve the way in which teachers are evaluated.
Some would characterize the push to change how teachers are evaluated as a controversy generating far more heat than light. I know I would.
But last week the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute released a report entitled “Rethinking Teacher Evaluation in Chicago: Lessons Learned from Classroom Observations, Principal-Teacher Conferences, and District Implementation.” The report is clearly written, supported by both statistical and anecdotal evidence, and altogether a bright ray of sunshine. It should be required reading for districts attempting to change or improve the way in which teachers are evaluated.
Prior to 2008, 93% of Chicago teachers were rated as either Superior or Excellent while 66% of Chicago schools failed to meet state standards. In the face of similar disconnects in other cities, the result has been a public shaming of teachers by publishing their test scores. Chicago schools, however, showed better sense by instead focusing on how teachers were evaluated, how they could be given helpful feedback, and how they could acquire skills to improve instruction. Chicago’s Excellence in Teaching Pilot used Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching to provide the rubrics for sound instruction, and both teachers and principals were trained in the new methodology.
Among the most important findings are these:
Students of teachers who rated high on the Danielson framework scored the best on tests; students of teachers who rated low scored the poorest.
The results of classroom observations were reliable; that is,trained principals and other observers who watched the same lesson ranked the teacher the same.
Teachers and principals who were trained and comfortable with the framework reported that the post-evaluation conferences were candid and helpful.
In other words, teacher observations went from being summative (assigning a number based on a checklist) to being formative (a live discussion of what went well and what needed improvement based on agreed upon criteria). The Danielson framework is relatively new, of course, but the concepts are vintage Madeline Hunter. And that's a good thing.
The report indicates that indeed there are identifiable and observable skills that constitute good teaching, and teachers and principals can agree upon them. In addition, the report shows again that teachers want (and deserve) feedback, and they want to have a conversation about what they are doing in the classroom. And by the way, that union canard about principals being biased – no evidence in the study.
The reports also suggests, however, that principals need training in what to look for and how to conduct a post-observation conference. Just because a person is a principal doesn’t mean he or she is an expert on best practices in the classroom, nor does it mean he or she is skilled in giving feedback. The report indicates that about half the principals in the pilot program were completely engaged in the new program. Some were ambivalent, and others were flatly against the new system. A major complaint was the time it takes to conference with teachers. To those principals I say, what are you doing that’s more important? Teaching is the heart of the school. If your time is taken up with other things like disciplinary issues, better teaching will improve the situation. It’s about ordering your priorities.
Over a year ago I asked in this blog why principals were not major players in the debate about teachers’ classroom performance. Chicago seems to have (re)discovered how important the teacher-principal alliance is in improving instruction. Working together teachers and principals can change a school. Original article here.
University of Chicago researchers believe their teacher evaluation study could drive national discussion
There's a national move toward beefing up teacher evaluations and linking them to test scores, but experts say there is very little research about the best way to get the job done.
But University of Chicago researchers believe their recently completed work on the topic has national implications.
The consortium studied a teacher evaluation system for two years looking at 44 schools in 2008-2009 and 101 in 2009-2010, using the Charlotte Danielson Framework for Teaching as its guide, The framework has been adopted as the Illinois state model.
Chicago previously used a system that both administrators and teachers found arbitrary and unfair, with 93 percent of the city's teachers rated superior or excellent – and 0.3 percent were deemed unsatisfactory. This was as 66 percent of the schools were falling short of state standards.
The Danielson program rates teachers on planning and preparation, classroom environment, instruction and professional responsibilities.
Both teachers and principals received training, and teachers were observed twice a year with conferences to discuss practices.
Using a rubric based on the Danielson plan, principals and trained observers – usually retired teachers and principals – who watched the same lesson consistently gave the teacher the same ratings. But they were most likely to agree on teachers who were not performing well.
Teachers liked the Charlotte Danielson system, Stoelinga said, believing it to be more effective than their current evaluation program.
The report showed that training is important for principals to rate teachers effectively. Read more
Evaluating teachers becomes tricky for states
Charlotte Danielson addresses a school reform conference in Indianapolis.
A nationally recognized expert in teacher effectiveness has some advice for states, including Indiana, that are creating new systems to judge teachers:
The system had better be well- designed, Charlotte Danielson said, because teachers who are unfairly fired will sue.
"And they'll probably win," she said.
Danielson, a former teacher and administrator in several states, was the keynote luncheon speaker Tuesday at a school reform conference sponsored by the University of Indianapolis' Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning. Her 1996 book, "Enhancing Professional Practice: A Framework for Teaching," has been influential in the design of new teacher evaluation systems, including the Teacher Advancement Program, one of two models being piloted this year in Indiana.
Next year, Indiana schools must implement a teacher evaluation system based on guidelines created in a law passed in April. The measure requires annual evaluations and ties teacher pay raises, in part, to their students' test performance.
Teaching is tough to judge because it is a very complex process, Danielson said.
"Teaching is so hard that it's never perfect," she said. "It can always be a little bit better."
University of Chicago Consortium on School Research.
Chicago Teacher Evaluation Pilot Shows Promise for Fairly, Accurately Evaluating Teachers
Rethinking Teacher Evaluation in Chicago found that teachers who received the highest ratings from principals on classroom observations were also the teachers whose students showed the greatest learning gains. This suggests that principals were able to distinguish between strong and weak teaching and that the observation tool used in the Chicago pilot, the Charlotte Danielson Framework for Teaching, captured factors that matter for student learning.
These findings have important policy implications for states and districts across the country working to implement evaluation systems that include classroom observations. Evaluations that rely on classroom observations provide teachers with a common definition of effective teaching and feedback on how they stack up on those criteria. They also can serve as the primary source of information on teacher quality in grade levels and subjects that are not tested.
The study is particularly relevant in states like Illinois, which has selected the Charlotte Danielson Framework as the state model. “This study shows that we’re moving in the right direction with our re-design of educator evaluations in Illinois. It shows the observation methods we’re moving toward are valid and reliable measures of solid teaching practice and that they can be applied consistently,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “The state is going to use the lessons learned in the Consortium study as we design the state’s training for principals which will be critical for the successful implementation of our new educator evaluation systems.” Read more
CELL education reform conference Nov. 14-15
Teacher evaluation among hot topics at annual Indiana’s Future event
As sweeping new education reform legislation takes hold in Indiana schools, the state’s largest annual conference on the subject takes place Nov. 14 and 15 in Indianapolis.As sweeping new education reform legislation takes hold in Indiana schools, the state’s largest annual conference on the subject takes place Nov. 14 and 15 in Indianapolis …
Several conference sessions will offer a state and national perspective on teacher evaluation systems, a topic of special interest to Indiana school corporations, which are required to adopt evaluation plans next year. A system known as TAPTM, which is being piloted this year in 44 Indiana schools, is the subject of a Nov. 14 panel discussion and a Nov. 15 presentation. Charlotte Danielson, an internationally known expert on assessing teacher effectiveness, will deliver a keynote address at 12:45 p.m. Nov. 15, followed by a question and answer session. Read more
Local officials hear about PA teacher evaluation pilot program
The "Making the Grade" virtual town hall meeting was hosted by Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children and the Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units. The meeting eventually will be posted online.
A pilot evaluation system for teachers has been based on the Charlotte Danielson model for teaching, which includes four components for effective teaching: planning and preparation, instruction, the classroom environment and responsibilities.
A new system will use that model to determine the characteristics of teachers in four categories: distinguished, proficient, in need of improvement or unsatisfactory, said Carolyn Dumaresq, the state's deputy education secretary. Read more
Making the Grade
Pennsylvania Town Hall: Every child deserves an effective teacher, just as every teacher deserves a rewarding and enriching working environment.
...Led by Ron Tomalis, secretary of the state Department of Education, a discussion was held by a panel of eight administrators, teachers and professionals who were involved in the first pilot program of the evaluation system of the state Department of Education.
The first pilot program included four school districts and one intermediate unit. The pilot project was funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to the state Department of Education
The new evaluation system is based on the Charlotte Danielson Framework for Teaching, which is a research-based set of components of instruction grounded in a constructivist view of learning and teaching. It involved evaluating the performance of teachers and school administrators, such as principals and school nurses.
In this framework, the activity of teaching is divided into 22 components clustered into four domains of teaching responsibility: planning and preparation, classroom environment, instruction and professional responsibilities.
"We really see this tool and this system as the way to make our teachers more successful," said Joan Benso, president and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships, who gave the introduction and welcome of the meeting via video conference. Read more
Issue Brief: Preparing Principals to Evaluate Teachers
From the National Governor's Association on Best Practices
During the past few years, more than 30 states have enacted legislation to change the way teachers are evaluated. The new laws require the annual evaluation of teachers; typically, multiple evaluations during the school year are required for new teachers. They also require the use of multiple measures to determine a teacher’s effectiveness and tie high-stakes decisions to the outcomes of teacher evaluations. Decisions related to tenure, compensation, and employment are among these high-stakes decisions.
With such decisions tied to evaluation results, it is important that governors lead efforts to make changes to state policy to ensure that school principals and other educators responsible for conducting evaluations are trained and certified to conduct them. Governors can use the state’s program approval authority to drive changes in principal preparation to improve principals’ readiness to conduct teacher evaluations. Moreover, governors can call for the tracking of data on professional development to determine what type of professional development—and which providers—are most able to improve student outcomes; such information is necessary to improve the quality of professional development. The information can also be used to make data-driven decisions about resourcing professional development. Finally, governors may want to consider adopting reasonable and responsible timelines for implementing the evaluation policies to ensure principals have the time they need to adequately train, become certified, and practice conducting evaluations before evaluation results are used to make high-stakes decisions. Download the full brief.
New Teacher Evaluation Takes Step Forward
Illinois is one of 33 states that have changed teacher evaluation policies since 2009.
Illinois is one of 33 states that have changed teacher evaluation policies since 2009, according to “State of the States: Trends and Early Lessons on Teacher Evaluation and Effectiveness Policies.” But identifying the best teachers without a plan to make sure they are distributed fairly among schools could actually reinforce systemic inequality in schools, the report notes.
“As we identify who the most effective teachers are, it might make it even easier for them to be snatched up by places with more resources,” says National Council on Teacher Quality Vice President Sandi Jacobs.
The report comes on the heels of the state Performance Evaluation Advisory Council’s consideration Friday of changes to principal and teacher evaluations. The council endorsed recommendations, but tabled the most controversial—the draft guidelines on using student growth in test scores—because the state is still holding public forums to get feedback on the issue.
Next, the recommendations will be sent to the Illinois State Board of Education, which will use them to craft new rules governing how teachers are assessed ...
Among the recommendations:
The state’s tiebreaker model would involve teacher observations using the Charlotte Danielson “Framework for Teaching,” which would account for 50 percent of a teacher’s score … Read more
Building a Better Teacher
Districts consider paying teachers based on evaluations
Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel
... In Milwaukee Public Schools, meanwhile, five low-performing schools received federal grants for turnaround efforts that required new evaluation systems for staff. But rather than limit the system to those schools, the Milwaukee teachers union worked with the administration to develop an evaluation tool that's poised to be rolled out for all teachers and principals next year ...
The pilot teacher evaluation tool being implemented in nine schools this year relies on 50% "teacher practice," as defined by a well-known framework for teaching devised by Charlotte Danielson, a New Jersey-based educational consultant, and 50% on "student growth and achievements."
"This is a huge change for teachers and principals," said Bob Peterson, president of the Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association. He added that the results of the evaluation should be used to help support teachers with more professional development, or usher them into a program of intense coaching and a way to exit the profession, if their reviews are consistently low ... Read more
Grading the Teachers
The Framework for Teaching is one of 5 observation protocols that are part of the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) study.
Wall St. Journal
... It may surprise you—it was certainly surprising to us—but the field of education doesn't know very much at all about effective teaching. We have all known terrific teachers. You watch them at work for 10 minutes and you can tell how thoroughly they've mastered the craft. But nobody has been able to identify what, precisely, makes them so outstanding.
This ignorance has serious ramifications. We can't give teachers the right kind of support because there's no way to distinguish the right kind from the wrong kind. We can't evaluate teaching because we are not consistent in what we're looking for. We can't spread best practices because we can't capture them in the first place.
For the last several years, our foundation has been working with more than 3,000 teachers on a large research project called Measures of Effective Teaching, or MET. These teachers volunteered to have their classes videotaped and their lessons scored by experts, to have their students evaluate their teaching, to fill out surveys about the support they receive and to be assessed on their content knowledge ... Read more
Illinois Teacher Evaluation
A Practical Study
North Central Illinois News Tribune
Implementing a state mandated evaluation plan may sound scary to teachers, but Nicky Barto, a Hall High School teacher, said the process could be rewarding.
As a tenured science teacher at Hall and representative for the high school faculty’s Illinois Education Association union, Barto has good cause to pay attention to the PERA implementation plan. More so, she’s a school board member in DePue, where she resides.
Barto finds herself at an advantage being able to experience the issue from two perspectives, particularly as DePue schools are already implementing a new evaluation system in order to meet the requirements of a school improvement grant the district received.
“At DePue they have completely instituted the teacher evaluation part of the PERA. They are test-piloting the student growth part of it,” Barto said, adding that if found to be successful the district will officially adopt the student growth component next year, well ahead of the PERA schedule.
She said the district is using a number of assessments as well as formal and informal in-class inspections to evaluate teacher performance. District administrators worked with teachers to develop appropriate and realistic goals to measure student growth.
The state, she said, is recommending districts not rely on standardized tests or No Child Left Behind-style standards to measure growth. She said it’s unrealistic to expect every student in a class to hit the same benchmark. Instead, the district will want to see that each student shows personal academic growth.
“I love the tool that we developed down there. It does need some flexibility for each district,” she said.
“Across the whole state every district uses such a variety of tools. I think in a lot of cases the tools have been used as a gotcha for teachers rather than for the growth of the teacher.”
By focusing on helping teachers improve rather than trying to catch teachers making mistakes, Barto said the process will be more beneficial for all involved. Additionally, she supported the idea of multiple in-class inspections rather than just one in order to give evaluators a better sample of the teacher they are judging.
Ideally, in such a system teachers would be able to get more constructive advice.
The DePue evaluation system is based in part on the Charlotte Danielson model, according to Barto. Named for an educational consultant, the model promotes shifting the focus of evaluations from “inspection” to “collaborative reflection,” according to the Danielson Group’s Web site.
Each district in the state will develop its own personalized evaluation plan. Barto said it’s likely the handful of schools currently implementing plans because of the grant requirements will be used as models for the rest of the state.
While on board with PERA, Barto said she remains a bit leery of some of the language in an education reform package the state approved this year, referred to as Senate Bill 7. She said she believes the state needs to “iron out” some of the details regarding the potential to fire tenured teachers.
“I’m not saying a bad teacher shouldn’t be fired, not by any means,” Barto said, “but right now it’s a little ambiguous at the state level.” Read more
Hernando County rolls out new teacher evaluation system
Teachers on special assignment use the Framework for Teaching to support colleagues.
October 9, 2011: Just last year, the 10-year veteran was teaching advanced placement psychology classes at Hernando High School. As then-chief negotiator for the Hernando Classroom Teachers Association, Galitsky took part in discussions about the new observation model.
In August, he was hired as a teacher on special assignment. One of his main duties is to visit every school in the district to train teachers and principals on the new evaluation system and help troubleshoot when problems arise.
For now, Galitsky is focusing on the observation component. Called Framework for Teaching, the system is a product of Charlotte Danielson, an educational consultant and former teacher based in Princeton, N.J.
Teachers are evaluated on four parts, or domains. Two of the domains cover classroom environment and instruction practices, or what Galitsky calls the "look for" categories. These are the pieces that principals will look for when they visit classrooms. Read more
A Framework for Good Teaching: a Conversation with Charlotte Danielson
EdWeek interviews Charlotte Danielson
October 8, 2011: What makes good teaching? Critics and reformers believe it is something that can be quantified, replicated and packaged. They also believe that given the right textbooks or high stakes exam, educators can be made to teach in the same way which will bring equality to the classroom, and therefore all students will succeed. After all, can't we use the same formula and get the same results?
The reality is that teaching is both a science and an art, and it is difficult. It is difficult to teach because students enter our classrooms from diverse backgrounds, where they have had diverse experiences, and not every parent cares about their child in the same way, which means that some of our children enter our schools with a great deal of emotional baggage.
Charlotte Danielson understands our student populations, and even more so, she understands good teaching. She has taught every level from kindergarten through college, has been an administrator and a consultant, and she believes good teaching comes from using reflective practice in four main areas. Those four areas are; planning and preparation, classroom environment, instruction and professional responsibilities.
Given the recent changes in teacher and administrator evaluation, I wanted to get Charlotte's perspective on how her effective and thought-provoking tool is being implemented in states across the country. Read more
Teacher evaluation process reworked
South Dakota schools will begin using new teacher evaluations approved this week by lawmakers.
September 29, 2011: South Dakota schools will begin using new teacher evaluations approved this week by lawmakers.
A legislative committee approved the standards 4-1 Tuesday after delaying the decision in August for lack of information. The state Department of Education spent significant time researching standards "that portrayed in an easy way, to teachers, people and administrators, what good teaching looks like," Secretary Melody Schopp said.
The department and a work group made up of teachers, parents and administrators decided on education consultant Charlotte Danielson's framework for teaching into its evaluations.
Immediately, every accredited district must incorporate Danielson's standards during evaluations, which include 22 components and 76 smaller elements that fit into four domains: planning and preparation, the classroom environment, instruction and professional responsibilities. Read more
Crafting an Accurate System for Evaluating Teachers
Guru of teacher evaluation talks about the pros and cons of judging educators
September 26, 2011: Charlotte Danielson may not be a recognizable name to the general public, but the Princeton-based consultant is the architect of a framework for observing and evaluating teachers that has been the gold standard in schools across the country.
By one count, a third of New Jersey school districts use the Danielson method in their own evaluation systems, focusing on its criteria for effective teaching. Danielson divides those criteria into 22 components across four domains: preparation, classroom environment, instruction, and professional responsibility.
As the Christie administration now moves to create a statewide teacher evaluation system, the Danielson framework is one of the programs being offered to 10 pilot districts. Of course, Gov. Chris Christie is also putting a heavy emphasis on student achievement measures such as state test scores for the rest of the rating, a component not in Danielson's system.
Last week, Danielson spoke with NJ Spotlight about the latest push for better evaluation nationwide -- both strengths and pitfalls, including some worries about how New Jersey is pursuing its reforms. Read more
Teacher contract adopts tenure rules based on the Framework for Teaching.
An agreement is reached.
September 19, 2011: The Philadelphia Association of Catholic Teachers (ACT) Local 1776 voted Monday morning to approve a three-year contract agreement ... The rules for teacher tenure will be based on Charlotte Danielson’s “Framework for Teaching.” Read more
NY State Education Department Approves Framework for Teaching
The New York State Department of Education (NYSED) has listed Charlotte Danielson's Framework for Teaching as an approved teacher practice rubric with ASCD Teacher Effectiveness Suite.
August 1, 2011: Across the country and internationally, thousands of schools have implemented Danielson’s Framework for Teaching as a tool for teacher evaluation. The Framework divides the complex activity of teaching into 22 components across four domains. The Danielson Group will be supporting New York districts as they begin the process of redeveloping teacher evaluation systems this summer and over the course of the school year. Read More
Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness
Can classroom observations identify practices that raise achievement?
Summer 2011: Jointly developed by the local teachers union and district more than a decade ago, the Cincinnati Public Schools’ Teacher Evaluation System (TES) is often cited as a rare example of a high-quality evaluation program based on classroom observations. At a minimum, it is a system to which the district has devoted considerable resources. During the yearlong TES process, teachers are typically observed and scored four times: three times by a peer evaluator external to the school and once by a local school administrator. The peer evaluators are experienced classroom teachers chosen partly based on their own TES performance. They serve as full-time evaluators for three years before they return to the classroom. Both peer evaluators and administrators must complete an intensive training course and accurately score videotaped teaching examples.
The system requires that all new teachers participate in TES during their first year in the district, again to receive tenure (usually in their fourth year), and every fifth year thereafter. Teachers tenured before 2000–01 were gradually phased into the five-year rotation. Additionally, teachers may volunteer to be evaluated; most volunteers do so to post the high scores necessary to apply for selective positions in the district (for example, lead teacher or TES evaluator).
The TES scoring rubric used by the evaluators, which is based on the work of educator Charlotte Danielson, describes the practices, skills, and characteristics that effective teachers should possess and employ. We focus our analysis on the two (out of four total) domains of TES evaluations that directly address classroom practices: “Creating an Environment for Student Learning” and “Teaching for Student Learning.” (The other two TES domains assess teachers’ planning and professional contributions outside of the classroom; scores in these areas are based on lesson plans and other documents included in a portfolio reviewed by evaluators.) These two domains, with scores based on classroom observations, contain more than two dozen specific elements of practice that are grouped into eight “standards” of teaching. Read more
Framework for Teaching Sees Record Growth
New Jersey most recent state to adopt research-based tool for systematic and scalable observations of instructional practice.
SAN FRANCISCO, June 28, 2011: The widely-used and research-proven Framework for Teaching (FFT), created by Charlotte Danielson, marks its 15th anniversary with significant growth in states and school districts nationwide, most recently being chosen by the New Jersey State Department of Education as an approved model for teacher evaluation in New Jersey. The FFT is a research-based tool used as the basis for teacher evaluation systems in thousands of schools nationwide and overseas. By implementing the FFT, schools ensure a consistent process for evaluating teacher effectiveness that is based on a solid foundation of research and demonstrated to be strongly correlated to student growth. Read More
Rick Hess Interview with Charlotte Danielson
Rick Hess sits down to chat with Charlotte Danielson about some of the ins and outs of teacher evaluation and what cautions or advice she might have for practitioners or policymakers.
June 23, 2011: There's been a heavy emphasis of late on teacher evaluation, with states and districts making it a pillar of their efforts to rethink tenure, pay, and professional norms. States and districts have adopted systems that rely heavily on observational evaluation to complement or stand in for value-added metrics. In many cases, they are turning to celebrated edu-consultant Charlotte Danielson's "Danielson Framework for Teaching." Just last week, Danielson was in New York City with NYCDOE chief academic officer Shael Polakow-Suransky to discuss NYC's reform efforts (NYC is using Danielson's framework as it designs new teaching standards). The Consortium on Chicago School Research is currently in the midst of a two-year review examining the adoption of the Danielson Framework in Chicago. The first report, released last year, termed the Danielson Framework "a reliable tool for identifying low-quality teaching" and said it "has potential for improving teacher evaluation systems." In light of all this, I thought it worth chatting with Charlotte about some of the ins and outs of teacher evaluation and what cautions or advice she might have for practitioners or policymakers. Read More