Like Tennessee, Kentucky has a new teacher evaluation model — The Professional Growth and Effectiveness System (PGES). Similar to reforms in Tennessee, the new model uses multiple measures to evaluate teachers, including classroom observation and student growth.
Unlike Tennessee, Kentucky has rolled out its new evaluation in phases, improving it along the way based on feedback from teachers and administrators.
Here’s a description of how the model, to be fully implemented in 2014-15, has been rolled out:
During the 2012-2013 school year, over 50 school districts in Kentucky have participated in a field test of the new system. The field test has allowed educator experience and feedback to inform improvements prior to the statewide pilot during the 2013-2014 school year. During the statewide pilot in 2013-2014, as least 10% of the schools in each district will implement the Professional Growth & Effectiveness System. In 2014-2015 the system will be fully implemented statewide with full accountability in Spring 2015.
That’s two years of pilot work before a single teacher is held fully accountable for the results of the new system. Of course, those evaluated get the chance to have their practice informed by the strengths of the new system. But they also are not held back by problems that may need reform or improvement.
Contrast that with Tennessee, which implemented a new evaluation system in 2011-12. Teachers were responsible for meeting the evaluation standards immediately. There was no statewide pilot, no partial implementation, testing, and then improvement. The evaluation has been changed or “improved” along the way, but that process has caused confusion as the standard by which teachers are evaluated seems to change from year to year.
Yes, there are strengths to evaluating teachers through multiple measures. Certainly, the old evaluation system warranted improvement. But the implementation process directed by the Department of Education failed to adequately take into account teacher and administrator feedback. A more measured approach, as seen in Kentucky, could have helped build educator support and buy-in and could have improved the process without the fear that comes with instant accountability for a previously unused standard.
It’s not too late for Tennessee to “re-launch” it’s evaluation process in light of new Common Core tests. A suspension of the use of TVAAS for teacher evaluation, as called for by PET and others could allow the state to re-examine the evaluations and phase-in improvements, fully implementing the new system as Common Core tests replace the old TCAP and EOC tests.
Doing so would require a step back from the rapid pace of recent reforms in the state. But the best way forward is not always the fastest. Tennessee would do well to emulate our neighbors, slow down, and focus on getting education reform right.
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