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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Educator Evaluation: Action Plan to Revise Regulations on Student Impact Rating

To:
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:
September 16, 2016

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In June 2011, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (Board) adopted new regulations for the evaluation of all Massachusetts educators. The regulations, which apply to both administrators and teachers throughout the state, are designed to:

  • Promote growth and development amongst leaders and teachers,
  • Place student learning at the center, using multiple measures of student learning, growth, and achievement,
  • Recognize excellence in teaching and leading,
  • Set a high bar for professional teaching status, and
  • Shorten timelines for improvement.

At the time, I noted that the effort to implement the new system would take several years since the changes outlined in the new regulations were not simply technical - they represented a culture shift for most school districts.

We are now five years into the process, and we have learned a great deal. As the Board knows, in our Educator Evaluation Framework, teachers and administrators receive two separate ratings: (1) a summative rating; and (2) a student impact rating. The regulations provided for staggered implementation, with districts adopting the process for determining a summative rating first, and subsequently adopting the process for determining the student impact rating.

Over the last few years, districts have successfully implemented the process for determining the summative rating. Implementing the process for determining an educator's student impact rating has been more challenging. As described in more detail below, the Department is discussing with stakeholders possible amendments to the regulations that would address concerns about the student impact rating. It is my intention to bring to the Board in October proposed amendments to the Educator Evaluation regulations that address those concerns.

Background

Beginning with the development of the evaluation framework, and at each stage of the implementation of the Educator Evaluation regulations, the Department has engaged with stakeholders. Most recently, throughout 2015-2016, the Commissioner and Department staff met regularly with a number of advisory committees established by the Department, including: the Superintendent Advisory Cabinet, the Principal Advisory Cabinet and the Teacher Advisory Cabinet, as well as the Working Group on Evaluating Educator Impact, which met from January through June 2016. Department staff and I have met regularly with the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents (M.A.S.S.), including staff and officers to solicit feedback. In May and June, the Board heard from K-12 practitioners, state and national policymakers, union leaders, and researchers on the implementation of the Educator Evaluation Framework.

We have heard concerns about assigning individual educators a student impact rating. We have also heard from stakeholders that evidence of student learning, either from common assessments or statewide assessments, is already an important component of the summative performance rating. For example:

  • M.A.S.S. issued a "Statement on District-Determined Measures Amendment" dated June 13, 2016. It stated: "M.A.S.S. believes that student learning and achievement is central to our mission of providing every child a high quality education. Under the current educator evaluation system we have multiple opportunities to discuss and prioritize student learning on our educator goal setting, classroom observations and evaluation outcomes. We value common assessments/district-determined measures and believe they provide valuable input to the overall evaluation process." M.A.S.S. proposed changing the educator evaluation regulations to eliminate the requirement for a separate student impact rating. M.A.S.S.' proposal included that the Board "may require that school districts consider student performance data which indicates a student's learning, growth and achievement, including but not limited to standardized state wide testing data, as an element of the educator evaluation process …" This statement reinforced the importance of student learning and achievement in the evaluation framework.

  • Similarly, the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) / American Federation of Teachers-MA (AFT-MA) position paper released in mid-April 2016 on the student impact rating and the Educator Evaluation Framework includes: "The state regulations - without impact ratings- already set forth a comprehensive educator evaluation system that relies on multiple sources of evidence, including evidence of student learning …" (emphasis in original) In the position paper, MTA and AFT propose to "[e]liminate the impact rating mandate, while keeping indicators of student learning as a source of evidence in the educator development and evaluation process."

  • In addition, in testimony to the Board in June 2016, President Madeloni of the MTA stated, "Student learning is central to what we do every day. Student learning is also embedded in the Educator Evaluation System in many ways."1 Beverly Miyares of the MTA echoed those comments in her presentation: "Student learning is at the center of Educator Evaluation Framework." Similarly, Dan Murphy, Director of Policy at AFT-MA described the AFT-MA's commitment to student learning in the Educator Evaluation Framework and to the use of common assessments: "Student learning is central to the five-step evaluation process, as President Madeloni pointed out. Evaluators already have the ability to look at common assessments. We are pro common assessments, if used well, and other types of student learning as part of the evaluation process."

These stakeholder comments all point to a solution to the concerns of implementation: eliminate the separate student impact rating from the Framework while continuing to use evidence from common assessments in order to provide educators with feedback on the extent to which they are promoting student learning and achievement as well as to incorporate this evidence into each educator's rating.

Moving Forward

The Department is discussing with stakeholders (including M.A.S.S., MTA and AFT-MA) possible changes to the regulations to address the concerns they have raised - specifically eliminating the separate student impact rating and instead including student learning within one or more of the standards of practice.

Our goal is to support meaningful educator evaluation while maintaining student learning as a central consideration. The constructive ideas we have heard have been helpful, and I expect to present proposed amendments to the educator evaluation regulations to the Board in October.

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Last Updated: September 19, 2016
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