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For Immediate Release
Friday, May 12, 2017
Contact:Jacqueline Reis, 781-338-3115

Massachusetts Updates Plan to Ensure Equitable Access to Excellent Educators

Update draws on educator data to assess gaps in students' access

MALDEN - The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education today released an equity plan to address gaps in students' access to strong educators, particularly students who are economically disadvantaged, students of color, English learners and students with disabilities.

The 2017 Massachusetts State Plan to Ensure Equitable Access to Excellent Educators includes data the state must report under federal law.

Strategies in the equity plan include:

  • competitive grants to encourage more systematic partnerships between districts and educator preparation programs,
  • resources to prepare teachers to work with students with disabilities in inclusive classrooms,
  • improved tools to support the use of data and
  • resources to help calibrate educator evaluations more consistently within a district.

The report is an update to the 2015 Equity Plan and incorporates the most recent educator evaluation data and new types of information to show statewide gaps in students' access to strong educators. The data shows that:

  • High-poverty and high-minority schools employ first-year teachers at more than twice the rate of low-poverty and low-minority schools (11.4 percent and 11.1 percent compared to 5.3 percent and 5.0 percent);
  • Hispanic/Latino and African-American/black students are more than three times as likely as white students to be assigned to an out-of-field teacher (Over the past three years, 7.9 percent of Hispanic/Latino students' teacher assignments were to out-of-field teachers, 8.6 percent of African-American/black students' teacher assignments were to out-of-field teachers, and 2.4 percent of white students' teacher assignments were to out-of-field teachers); and
  • Economically disadvantaged students are taught by teachers rated Needs Improvement/Unsatisfactory at a rate 71 percent greater than that of students who are not economically disadvantaged. (Over the past three years, 7.2 percent of economically disadvantaged students' teacher assignments were to teachers rated Needs Improvement/Unsatisfactory, while only 4.2 percent of the teaching assignments of students who were not economically disadvantaged were to teachers rated Needs Improvement/Unsatisfactory.)

The federal Every Student Succeeds Act requires school districts to identify and address any disparities that result from low-income students or students of color being taught at higher rates than other students by "ineffective, inexperienced, or out-of-field teachers." The law also requires states to publicly report this data as a condition of receiving federal education money.

"Teacher effectiveness is the most influential school-based element to ensure strong student learning," said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester. "It is my expectation that this report will shine a light on schools and districts where access to effective teachers is not equitable. Most importantly, it is my hope that this transparency will lead to action that ensures all students are taught by effective teachers."

About the Educator Evaluation Data That Accompanies the Equity Plan

Evaluators, who are typically principals or department heads, rate educators using multiple categories of evidence, including observations, multiple measures of student learning, and evidence linked to effective practice, such as samples of student work, lesson plans, and materials showing engagement with families. The framework relies on the evaluator's professional judgment and does not give teachers a numerical score. The framework's goal is to provide new opportunities for strong educators and to strengthen educators who need to improve.

Every educator evaluated in 2015-16 received a performance rating of Exemplary, Proficient, Needs Improvement or Unsatisfactory. The performance rating determines the type of educator plan an educator is placed on for the next cycle: Experienced, effective educators have longer plans that offer them more autonomy, while newer teachers and those in need of improvement have shorter, more specific plans.

The 2015-16 results released today include:

  • All Educators: Statewide, 11.5 percent were rated Exemplary, 84.2 percent were Proficient, 3.9 percent were Needs Improvement, and 0.4 percent were Unsatisfactory.
  • Administrators: Statewide, 16.4 percent were rated Exemplary, 80.2 percent were Proficient, 3.2 percent were Needs Improvement, and 0.1 percent were Unsatisfactory.
  • Principals: Statewide, 14.9 percent were rated Exemplary, 80.8 percent were Proficient, 4.1 percent were Needs Improvement, and 0.1 percent were Unsatisfactory.
  • Teachers – Professional Teacher Status: Statewide, 12.5 percent were rated Exemplary, 85.3 percent were Proficient, 1.9 percent were Needs Improvement, and 0.3 percent were Unsatisfactory.
  • Teachers – Non-Professional Teacher Status: Statewide, 4.3 percent were rated Exemplary, 84.4 percent were Proficient, 10.6 percent were Needs Improvement, and 0.8 percent were Unsatisfactory.

The results released at the district and school level today are not meant to spur comparisons among districts. Instead, individual districts can use the information to help gauge whether expectations for high-quality instruction are consistent across the district.

Per state law, individual evaluation data submitted to ESE is considered personnel information and is confidential and not subject to disclosure under the public records law. The exception is data for superintendents, whose annual evaluations are a matter of public record.

For school- and district-level evaluation data, visit 2015-16 Educator Evaluation Performance (DISTRICT): All Educators. For more information about equitable access to strong teachers, visit Massachusetts Plan for Equitable Access to Excellent Educators, 2015-2019.

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Last Updated: May 12, 2017
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