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Press Release: Progress With Implementation Of New Evaluation System

Report Finds Leaders Are Gaining Confidence In Student Learning Objectives And Overall Process

For Immediate Release                   Contact: Bil Reinhard, 410.767.0486, 443-670-7072 (cell)

Baltimore, MD (September 23, 2014)

Representatives of Maryland public school systems are continuing to report progress in the statewide implementation process for new Teacher and Principal Evaluation, according to a new report.

Real Progress in Maryland: Student Learning Objectives and Teacher and Principal Evaluation,” issued today by the Community Training and Assistance Center and the Mid-Atlantic Comprehensive Center of WestEd, found growing support for the evaluation process.  In particular, educators are embracing the use of Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) as a tool to measure student growth and improve instruction.

“Maryland’s progress in developing an evaluation system is substantial,” said William J. Slotnik, founder and executive director of the Community Training and Assistance Center (CTAC).  “The State is a national exemplar in this work, and is being transparent about the development process for effective evaluation of teachers and leaders.”

The report presented today by Slotnik to the Maryland State Board of Education found that Teacher-Principal Evaluation (TPE) is prompting deeper analysis and use of data to focus on student needs.  As educators gain more experience in the process, their confidence and skill levels in the process are growing.

School system leaders credit the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) with effective help in implementing TPE. 

“We are working closely with educators to construct a fair system that improves instruction and prepares students for college or career,” said State Superintendent of Schools Lillian M. Lowery.  “The more experience teachers and school leaders have with the new evaluation system, the more we will see professional growth and student achievement in our classrooms.  This is a thoughtful, deliberate, and collaborative process.”

The Mid-Atlantic Comprehensive Center, funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, partnered with MSDE to conduct the study.  The study team included researchers from both CTAC and WestEd.  The study is a continuation of earlier work by CTAC and WestEd and is designed to further strengthen Maryland’s implementation of TPE and its SLO component.  SLOs are measurable instructional goals established for a specific group of students over a set period of time. SLOs serve as one of the measures of student growth for the State Teacher Evaluation model 

Researchers collected qualitative and quantitative data from State educators this past spring, including interviews with superintendents, teacher association leaders, administrators, and principals.  In addition, focus groups of teachers were held and a Statewide survey of 16,316 educators from 23 local school systems took place with a response rate of 31.3 percent.

Among the other highlights of the report:

  • Principals are more likely than teachers to agree about the positive aspects of TPE, although both are positive.
  • Districts or schools that had prior experience with TPE, and approached piloting and field testing seriously, are implementing the process more effectively.
  • Many educators believe that overall teacher ratings will not change significantly from the previous evaluation system.  In districts that view the TPE process as part of the instructional system, teachers have fewer concerns about the ratings.
  • Educators like the idea of using SLOs, a key factor in Maryland’s education system, as a tool to measure student growth and prompt collaboration.  .
  • Districts with substantive SLO training were more confident in all aspects of the process.

The report points out challenges remain in full implementation of TPE.  Educators surveyed last spring indicated a need for additional training, which MSDE provided to more than 4,000 participants last summer.

The results of the new study mirror the results of MSDE research, released earlier this year.  In a report unveiled in March, 80 percent or more of professional development coordinators involved say they are either “increasingly confident” or “fully confident” in Teacher and Principal Evaluation systems at this juncture.  That percentage had increased from 60 percent just a few months earlier.

Maryland schools are in the second year of implementing new evaluation systems, and MSDE will continue to monitor progress in that implementation. 

MSDE has involved all 24 school systems and various stakeholders in the professional development process for Teacher and Principal Evaluation. MSDE and the Maryland State Board of Education in June joined the Maryland State Education Association, Public School Superintendents Association of Maryland, Maryland Association of Boards of Education, Maryland Association of Secondary School Principals, Maryland Association of Elementary School Principals, and the Baltimore Teachers Union in a Memorandum of Understanding pledging to coordinate resources and strategies in the development of rigorous and measurable SLOs as part of that process.

Maryland school systems have spent the past four years developing TPE programs.  Maryland’s winning $250 million Race to the Top federal grant proposal included a statewide TPE system.  Every Maryland school has begun to see the benefits from the professional development and collaboration used to develop SLOs to guide instruction.

Each school district could develop its own evaluation system within State parameters, or could use a State-developed system.  In the end, each district constructed an evaluation model based on its own interests, and each local superintendent and head of the local bargaining unit signed off on the design.

MSDE received flexibility from the U.S. Department of Education that school year 2014-15 be used to establish a baseline for student achievement without using state assessment scores in personnel decisions during the first two years of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) assessments, which replace the MSA.  Data from the second PARCC test administration in school year 2015-16 will not be available until the summer.  New student achievement data could be used to measure growth and in making personnel decisions for the first time during the 2016-17 school year.

The full report, “Real Progress in Maryland: Student Learning Objectives and Teacher and Principal Evaluation,” is available here.

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