Today, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) – the investigative arm of Congress – released a report detailing the challenges Race to the Top states are confronting while implementing new teacher and principal evaluation systems.
Of the 12 states that received RTTT grants, only 6 have fully developed systems while the remaining states are still in the process of piloting or partially implementing their new teacher/principal evaluation systems.
The states that have fully developed systems for teachers and principals include: Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Tennessee. Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and Ohio have partially developed systems; and Hawaii has partially implemented its teacher evaluation while fully implementing its principal evaluation system.
It’s no surprise that measuring student growth was one of the largest hurdles states are grappling with. Other challenges cited included developing and using evaluation measures, addressing teacher concerns, and building capacity and sustainability, according to GAO.
To receive a RTTT grant, states had to commit to overhauling their teacher and principal evaluation systems to include student growth as a ‘significant factor’ and use evaluations to inform professional development, compensation, promotion, retention, tenure, and certification.
The U.S. Department of Education has said that student growth is measured as the change in student achievement between two or more points in time and can be based on standardized tests, state/district developed exams (i.e. pre/post tests or end-of-course exams), student learning objectives set by teachers or principals for groups of students, or school-wide measures of academic growth.
For special educators, it is critical to know, understand and advocate for policies that accurately measure academic growth of students with disabilities. While this GAO report only focused on the 12 states that received RTTT grants, 41 states have committed to revamping their teacher evaluation systems as a condition of receiving a waiver from some controversial requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act/No Child Left Behind. Many states are still in the process of developing their systems and CEC has encouraged all of its members to be a voice in state and local conversations.
To support special education teachers, CEC developed a position on special education teacher evaluation and a toolkit which provides:
- Questions and Answers about CEC’s Position on Special Education Teacher Evaluation;
- CEC Top Ten Innovative Ways to Use and Share CEC’s Position on Special Education Teacher Evaluation; and
- Tips for Effectively Using CEC’s Position on Special Education Teacher Evaluation in Your State.
Also, CEC members have access to CECommunity on Special Education Teacher Evaluation where you can become part of a dialog to understand and navigate evaluation systems, address the unique challenges, and learn how to highlight the unique skills of special educators during evaluation conversations with administrators and/or policymakers.
Tell us, are you part of a new teacher evaluation system? What do you like, what needs improvement?