Earlier this year, Washington state received a high risk warning from the federal government regarding its teacher evaluation system. One issue: whether state test results can be used in teacher evaluation, or whether they must be used. Randy Dorn has requested that the state legislature address this issue in the upcoming session.
The high risk warning letter concerns one of the "inputs" of teacher evaluation--the potential use of state tests. Yesterday, OSPI issued a report concerning one of the "outputs" of our evaluation system--human resource decisions. The report, "Using Teacher and Principal Evaluations to Inform Human Resource Decisions," was put together by OSPI and the education research organization American Institute for Research (AIR). They surveyed and conducted forums with Washington stake holders and looked at national trends. It includes interesting data about teacher and administrator views--see the graph up to the left.
Clearly, evaluation results can already be used in human resource decisions such as non-renewal. Recent changes to the law mean that by 2015-2016, evaluation results will also be included in human resource decisions such as layoffs, RIFs, transfers, and moving from provisional to continuing contract status. Some districts are using evaluation results for decisions on leadership opportunities and professional development. This affects a lot of people--we need to have a good system here.
An interesting section of the report talks about some of the unintended consequences of using evaluations in human resource decisions. A few quotes:
"Teachers expressed a desire to use their focused evaluations as an opportunity to try new strategies that might not result in a Proficient rating. Some teachers would be deterred from trying new approaches if employment decisions would be based on those results."
"By using teacher evaluation data in HR decisions, particularly employment decisions, participants worried that teachers would begin to compete with each other rather than cooperate to improve student learning."
One striking trend that emerged in the report was time. This is the first year that ALL school districts in the state of Washington are using TPEP evaluation. Educators wanted time to ensure that both evaluators and those being evaluated received appropriate training, and also wanted time to test out the new system itself.
The report states (p. 13) that in the upcoming legislative session, OSPI is pursuing a change to current state law that would delay the use of evaluations in human resource decisions until the 2016-17 school year. A delay like this is a good idea: let's try our new system out before increasing the high stakes consequences attached to it! We need to get this right.