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Educator Evaluation

Evaluator Calibration

What is calibration?Why is calibration important?
Calibration is the result of ongoing, frequent collaboration of groups of educators to (1) come to a common, shared understanding of what practice looks like at different performance levels and (2) establish and maintain consistency in aspects of the evaluation process including analyzing evidence, providing feedback, and using professional judgment to determine ratings. Research suggests that most educators in Massachusetts perceive their own evaluator's assessment of their performance to be fair. However, when asked about the process overall, many educators perceive there to be inconsistencies both within and across schools in how evaluators conduct evaluations. Inconsistency leads to questions of fairness. Engaging in calibration activities can help evaluators and educators norm their expectations and ensure that all educators experience a meaningful evaluation experience.

Bottom line: evaluators want to deliver high quality, actionable feedback just as much as educators want to receive it. Calibrating expectations for educator practice and deepening collective knowledge of strategies that can help educators grow is integral to sustaining an evaluation process that will strengthen educator practice and improve student learning.

OPTIC: Online Platform for Teaching and Informed Calibration — Now available statewide!

OPTIC is a professional development tool, hosted by TeachForward, supporting Massachusetts educators to refine a shared understanding of effective, standards-aligned instructional practice and high quality feedback.

Learn more:

Start planning your professional development today! OPTIC is available at no cost to MA districts and preparation providers through June 2021.

Screen shot of sample calibration platform task page Grade 7 ELA lesson on Emily Dickinson.

Using OPTIC to Calibrate on Culturally Responsive Teaching

Great teaching is culturally responsive teaching: focused on promoting academic achievement, demonstrating cultural competence, and fostering students' sociopolitical awareness. These resources support educators to use OPTIC as a professional development tool that builds their understanding of culturally responsive teaching practices.

These resources reflect the contributions of the 2021 OPTIC Content Fellows, a group of MA educators and educator preparation faculty with expertise in subject matter content and culturally responsive teaching:

  • Culturally Responsive Look-Fors for OPTIC Focus Elements
    This resource lists observable, culturally responsive teacher and student actions, or look-fors, for a subset of focus elements from the Classroom Teacher Model Rubric. These look-fors represent great teaching for all students and can be used to support calibration training, professional development, observations, feedback, and/or coaching.

  • Facilitator's Guide: Using OPTIC to Strengthen Understandings of Culturally Responsive Teaching
    Educators can use the resources in this Facilitator's Guide to plan and participate in professional development trainings in which they watch a brief video of classroom instruction on OPTIC and assess the strength of the instruction through a culturally responsive lens. Educators then come together to compare their perceptions of the instruction to benchmark scores and evidence identified by OPTIC Content Fellows, a group of Massachusetts educators with expertise in their content area and culturally responsive teaching. These discussions can support educators to build their understanding of what culturally responsive teaching looks like in the classroom and to integrate aspects of culturally responsive teaching into their own practice.

Calibration Video Library & Protocols

DESE is pleased to provide a collection of professionally created videos of classroom instruction produced by the School Improvement Network, along with sample training protocols and activities. These videos depict a range of practice — this is not a collection of exemplars — to support within-district calibration activities that promote a shared understanding of instructional quality and rigor.

Email for additional information about DESE's calibration training supports.

Last Updated: June 13, 2023

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