Committee issues recommendations for teacher evaluation audits

After two full days of meetings, members of a new state committee developed recommendations Wednesday for auditing teacher evaluations completed by school administrators.

Evaluations committee
Members of the Professional Evaluation Review Committee meet Wednesday in Boise. Photo by Clark Corbin / Idaho Ed News.

Members of the Professional Evaluation Review Committee recommend a pilot program auditing evaluations performed by 165 of the state’s approximately 800 principals and vice principals. The administrators would be selected randomly, and from that pool two evaluations by each would be randomly selected for auditing.

Committee members recommend auditing evaluations to determine:

  • Whether the summative evaluation properly weighted professional practice at 66 percent and student achievement at 33 percent.
  • Whether two documented classroom observations were completed, and when.
  • If the professional practice portion of the evaluation included all 22 components from Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching.
    Whether additional measures or evidence were included in the evaluation.
  • Whether or not a district has developed a written policy concerning evaluations.

Committee members also backed Danielson’s Framework for teaching as an appropriate tool for evaluation and teacher growth, but expressed concerns that the framework may not always be used effectively or the way it was intended.

“We put a lot of time into drafting this and there is a lot of room for it not to go the way it is meant, even with the best of intentions,” Twin Falls special education teacher Susan Webb said. “That is where some of the stress comes from. It just needs to have some transparency and some input from those being evaluated.”

Last month, Idaho Education News relied on public records to determine that administrators from 32 of the state’s 115 school districts issued identical overall evaluation scores to every teacher in their district.

In other action Wednesday, committee members recommended additional evaluations training for teachers and administrators, and said that hiring additional administrators could relieve some of the evaluating and auditing burden for school districts.

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Finally, committee members discussed qualifications that auditors should have, but left the job of selecting auditors to the State Department of Education. However, they stressed that those who complete audits should be unbiased and not live or work within the district where the evaluations originated. They also suggested auditors should have some educational experience, and that retired teachers or administrators could be good candidates for the job.

The committee is made up of teachers, administrators, higher education officials, human resource directors and a school board chairman. Throughout the two days of meetings at the Boise Red Lion, members worked collaboratively in small groups and sought out differing opinions from their colleagues.

“The work of the committee was rather difficult due to the undertones of the career ladder and the importance of a good evaluation instrument,” Boise director of human resources Blas Telleria said. “We hope we have given the State Board of Education a great recommendation they can vet with the various stakeholders, such that it make this a meaningful experience for teachers and students.”

Lisa Colon, the State Department of Education’s teacher certification and Professional Standards Commission director, said she was proud the committee was able to accomplish as much as it did in two days.

“They worked very collaboratively and I appreciated their honestly and willingness to put forward some of the more difficult topics and really be able to openly discuss those,” Colon said, adding that State Department of Education officials took pains not to influence the committee’s work or line of thinking.

No additional meetings are scheduled for the committee, but members’ assignments may continue, Colon said. Committee members may be asked to review the final written proposals, be assigned new tasks or be asked to present their recommendations to either legislators or the State Board of Education.

Recommendations could take the form of a proposed rule developed by the State Board of Education that would then be forwarded to the Legislature.

Additional reading: Click here for Idaho Education News’ coverage of the committee’s first meeting Tuesday.