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Evaluating teachers becomes tricky for states

Charlotte Danielson addresses a school reform conference in Indianapolis.

Scott Elliott

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

By University of Chicago Consortium on School Research

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.”


CELL education reform conference Nov. 14-15

Teacher evaluation among hot topics at annual Indiana’s Future event

By Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning at the University of 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.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.


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.

By Angie Mason

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.


Making the Grade

Pennsylvania Town Hall: Every child deserves an effective teacher, just as every teacher deserves a rewarding and enriching working environment.

Schuylkill County residents learn about teacher evaluations

By Thomas Leskin

...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.


New Teacher Evaluation Takes Step Forward

Illinois is one of 33 states that have changed teacher evaluation policies since 2009.

By Rebecca Harris

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.

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"Danielson’s Framework for Teaching has been a revelation to me; the best analogy I can offer is that the Framework is like having voice-guided GPS to direct you to a destination, when before you might have only had a destination name and an outdated road map."

Pre-Service Teacher, May 2016

“[The consultant] gave the best PD I have seen in 15 years of teaching, and was the first to explain [the] Danielson [Framework] in a human way. Bravo.”

A teacher, June 2015

“I am so impressed with the Danielson Group consultants. They are all so real. Your trainers helped make [proficient] teaching stronger and steered [basic teaching] toward increasing effectiveness.” 

A principal, June 2015

"Due to your consultant's seamless and meaningful transitions, knowledge of content, and rapport with the audience, the room was alive with energy and it made us all feel ready to begin the year off with success."

"Never before have I seen a group of seasoned educators like your consultants master the art of communicating with an audience with varied levels of expertise and interests. The two days that I spent with your team, I walked away with a desire to use the rubric to truly enhance my own practice."

"I left with a renewed look at the rubric, thinking that the rubric is the Great Equalizer! We can ALL enhance our practice by using it as a tool and a roadmap to produce students who think and are ready for college and careers. THANK YOU!"

"Your consultants' presence and organization of the day will not only impact the new teachers that attended, but will make the year alive for a vast number of students this year."

"Our workshop focused on calibration and inter-rater agreement training, so it was directly aligned to our individual and collective work with teacher performance evaluation.  With new administrators on the team, this type of training is critical."

"We were highly impressed with our Danielson Group consultant and the workshop. We have nothing but positive things to share. Staff have been emailing us, thanking us. This is the most worthwhile presentation we've been to in a while."

"The workshop you provided was hands-on, interesting, practical, and respectful of time limits. I heard more positive feedback about this workshop from staff than I have about any other."

"We wanted to let you know how much we appreciated the flexibility and professionalism that your consultant provided in our unique context. It helped us to keep on track with our schedule at a critical time. For that we are truly grateful."

"Your consultant presented a perfectly differentiated learning experience for all our principals. They were highly engaged, as demonstrated by on-topic conversations using academic language, completion of tasks requiring evidence identification, and note taking and 'grading' during classroom videos of teaching."

"Our school principals said the Framework observation training was the best training they had ever had, including the training provided when earning their Master’s degrees."

"I have a principal who was so excited about the breakthrough work with her staff in special education. I am already getting my money back!"

"My concern about the extra time it would take to implement the Framework successfully was not accurate. It took about the same amount of time as our prior evaluation system, and the benefits in professional growth and increased student achievement were more than worth it."

"I want to truly thank you for the brilliant job that you did with our training. I got such positive feedback from the team. They feel re-energized and like they have a direction and new tools to do the job."