Idaho to stay the course with teacher evaluation model

State Superintendent Sherri Ybarra has changed her mind, announcing Tuesday that Idaho will continue using the Charlotte Danielson Framework for Teaching to evaluate teachers.

In July, Ybarra told Idaho Education News she wanted to overhaul or replace the model in the wake of reports revealing widespread inaccuracies in teacher evaluation data reported to her State Department of Education.

“We have known for a long time we have the wrong tool in place,” Ybarra said in July. “The right thing to do is to stop doing what’s wrong and change it.”

But on Tuesday, she issued a news release supporting the continued use of the Danielson model after the SDE obtained “feedback from the field.”

“We investigated, and Idaho will be staying the course with the Danielson Framework and will continue to message through misconceptions to support school districts,” Ybarra said.

The state and most school districts use the Danielson model to measure teacher performance and as a basis for evaluations. The state collects these evaluations because they are tied to Idaho’s career ladder plan to increase teacher salaries. Ybarra’s 2017-18 budget proposal pegs $57.8 million to support the third year of the five-year salary plan.

The Danielson model came under public scrutiny after Idaho Education News uncovered widespread errors and omissions in evaluation data reported to the state over the past two years.

Some administrators admitted they purposefully reported inaccurate data to the state, which prompted three punitive actions:

  1. The 2016 Legislature removed oversight of teacher evaluation data away from Ybarra’s office and gave it to the State Board of Education.
  2. Lawmakers granted the State Board $600,000 in new funding to audit evaluations.
  3. The State Board in September endorsed a proposal to levy $10,000 to $50,000 fines against school administrators who intentionally submit false evaluation data. (The rule requires legislative approval.)

Some educators have criticized using the Danielson Framework for evaluating teachers,  because it was originally developed as a teaching tool to help identify strengths, weaknesses and strategies to improve.

“The model itself was never really built (for evaluations),” Rob Winslow, the executive director of the Idaho Association of School Administrators, said in a July interview.

Districts may still use another evaluation model, with approval, but it must follow Idaho state code.

“I think we can all agree that we have invested much time, money, and training into the adoption and implementation of the Danielson Framework,” Ybarra said. “We realize that there is a lack of public knowledge around use of the framework, as well as not asking for the right information, and we will continue to support districts in adoption and implementation.”