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Massachusetts Plan for Equitable Access to Excellent Educators, 2015-2019


The following are definitions of terms used in the Equity Plan:

Absenteeism: The total number and percentage of full time equivalency (FTE) teachers, in each district and aggregated across the state, that were absent 10 days or more during the regular school year when the teacher would otherwise be expected to be teaching students in an assigned class. Absences include days taken for sick leave and for personal leave. Personal leave includes voluntary absences for reasons other than sick leave. Absences do not include administratively-approved leave for professional development, field trips, or other off-campus activities with students. Please note: DESE educator attendance data will be available in Fall 2015 based on the 2014-2015 school year.

Economically Disadvantaged Students:

  • Prior to the 2014-2015 school year, termed "low income students": enrolled students who are eligible for free or reduced price lunch
  • In 2015-2016 school year and beyond: "economically disadvantaged students" are enrolled students participating in one or more of the following state-administered programs: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); the Transitional Assistance for Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC); the Department of Children and Families' (DCF) foster care program; and eligible MassHealth programs (Medicaid).

Educator: Any person employed by a school or school district in a position requiring a license (603 CMR 7.02), including teachers and administrators (603 CMR 35.02).

Educator Preparation: All steps involved in the ways in which prospective teachers and administrators can be prepared for a career in education. This includes Institutes of Higher Education and other Educator Preparation Programs, multiple pathways to the profession, and licensure.

English Language Learners are children who:

  1. have indicated a language other than English on the Home Language Survey; and
  2. are less than proficient on an English language proficiency assessment; and
  3. are unable to perform ordinary classroom work in English

Evaluation ratings: The Massachusetts Evaluation Framework includes a Summative Performance Rating and Student Impact Rating for each educator. These two independent but linked ratings Download PDF Document focus on the critical intersection of practice and impact, while creating a more complete picture of educator performance. The roll-out for implementation of the Evaluation Framework is now complete and all districts are evaluating all educators, including teachers and administrators. According to the implementation timeline, at the end of the 2014-2015 school year, every educator will have a Summative Performance Rating based on the 2014-2015 school year (and some may have a rating from a previous evaluation cycle).1 Every educator will have a Student Impact Rating after the 2016-2017 school year, as the rating is based on trends over a minimum of at least two years. The first year of data collection for the trends and patterns to determine the Student Impact Rating is underway as of 2014-2015. Ratings are as follows:

Summative Performance Rating: At the end of the five-step evaluation cycle, each educator is assigned a Summative Performance Rating. This rating assesses an educator's practice against four statewide Standards of Effective Teaching or Administrator Leadership Practice, as well as an educator's progress toward attainment of his/her professional practice and student learning goals. In the Summative Performance Rating, the evaluator classifies the teacher or administrator's "professional practice" into one of four performance levels: Exemplary, Proficient, Needs Improvement, or Unsatisfactory. The evaluator applies her/his professional judgment to determine this rating based on multiple categories of evidence related to the four Standards, including classroom observations and artifacts of instruction; multiple measures of student learning, growth, and achievement; and student feedback (in the case of all educators) and staff feedback (in the case of administrators). The evaluator also applies her/his professional judgment to assess all of the evidence related to an educator's goals and determines the extent to which the educator is progressing toward each goal.

Student growth plays a significant factor in the Summative Performance Rating in two ways. First, multiple measures of student learning, growth, and achievement are a required source of evidence. An evaluator will review outcomes from student measures that an educator has collected to make judgments about the effectiveness of the educator's practice related to one or more of the four Standards. Such evidence may be from classroom assessments, projects, portfolios, and district or state assessments. Second, evaluators must consider progress toward attainment of the educator's student learning goal when determining the Summative Performance Rating.

Student Impact Rating: Each educator is also assigned a Student Impact Rating, which is separate but complementary to the Summative Performance Rating. This rating is informed by patterns (at least two measures) and trends (at least two years) in student learning, growth, and achievement as measured by statewide growth measures (Student Growth Percentiles, or SGPs) where available, and District-Determined Measures (DDMs). DDMs are measures identified or developed locally by each district. In order to determine the Student Impact Rating, the evaluator applies his/her professional judgment and analyzes trends and patterns of student learning, growth, and achievement presented by the SGPs and DDMs to determine whether the educator's impact on student learning is High, Moderate, or Low. Each educator will be matched with at least two measures each year (DDMs and/or SGPs) to generate the data necessary for evaluators to determine Student Impact Ratings. Student growth percentiles from state assessments must be used as at least one measure where available. Student growth is a significant factor in the Student Impact Rating, as the rating is wholly derived from the evaluator's judgment of student outcomes from multiple measures of learning, growth, and achievement.

High Needs Students: An unduplicated count of all students in a school or district belonging to at least one of the following individual subgroups: students with disabilities, English language learners (ELLs) and former ELLs (FLEP) , or low income students. Students may be included in more than one category.

High minority schools: The highest minority schools are those schools within the highest quartile in the state for enrollment of students of color. This quartile includes schools in which 56 percent or more of enrolled students are students of color.

Highly Qualified Teacher: A teacher who has demonstrated content knowledge in one of the core academic subjects, is fully licensed, and holds a bachelor's degree.

Ineffective Educator: An educator who has been rated as Needs Improvement or Unsatisfactory on the Summative Performance Rating of the Educator Evaluation Framework. The corollary is also true: Educators who have been rated as Exemplary or Proficient, and who also succeed on other measures, are considered Excellent.

Inexperienced Educator: Beginning educators, defined as teachers and administrators in their first year of practice.

Minority: Students who are American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Black, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic, or two or more races. The term "students of color" is used interchangeably with the term "minority" within the Equity Plan.

Out-of Field:

  • Out-of-Field Teacher: a core academic teacher2 who is not Highly Qualified for the subject/s he or she teaches for more than 20 percent of his or her schedule
  • Out-of-field Administrator: an administrator who does not hold the specific license for the role he or she performs for more than 20 percent of his or her schedule

Quartiles: DESE has used quartiles to identify certain equity gaps, comparing the top and bottom quartiles (one-quarter of a designated group). Unless otherwise stated, this group is statewide. For the purposes of this plan, DESE has specifically used the following:

  • HPQ versus LPQ: high-poverty quartile versus low-poverty quartile
  • HMQ versus LMQ: high-minority quartile versus low-minority quartile

Unqualified Educator: An educator who does not hold a valid Massachusetts license.

Unprepared Educator: A teacher who only holds a Preliminary License, meaning the educator has a Bachelor's degree and has demonstrated subject knowledge but has not completed an educator preparation program.

Waiver: Also referred to as a "hardship waiver," a waiver is an exemption accorded during the time period of any one school year. The waiver excuses the school district from the requirement to employ licensed or certified personnel in accordance with Massachusetts state regulations.

This waiver is granted to a district by the Commissioner upon the request of a superintendent, with demonstration to the Commissioner that the district has made a good faith effort to hire licensed or certified personnel and has been unable to find a licensed or certified candidate qualified for the position. Persons employed under waivers must demonstrate that they meet minimum requirements as established by DESE and are making continuous progress toward meeting the licensure or certification requirements in the field in which they are employed.

Last Updated: September 10, 2015
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