Sunday, February 19, 2012

Minimum Wasted Effort Accomplished Without Great Difficulty

Recently, I attended a conference in which the topic centered around teacher effectiveness accompanied with the three different evaluation models that each school district in my state must adopt by April 16th, 2012. I was excited to attend due to the fact that I have not only reviewed in depth each model, but have spent the past year piloting one of the approved models. The meeting consisted of seventeen superintendents and three principals within our network. Besides the fact that not one TEACHER and only three principals were in attendance, I was taken back by many, many comments coming from, what should be, the lead learners within a school system. The comment that was the toughest for me to swallow, especially because ninety-percent of the educators in the room began nodding agreeably, was this particular statement:

“As we begin to decide which model to recommend for our particular district, the most important question we must ask ourselves is, which model is most efficient and manageable for our principals?”

Unbelievable! I could not disagree more. Wouldn't a much more important question be, which model is designed to help teachers systematically improve on their instructional practices by providing specific and meaningful feedback? Shouldn't a strong teacher evaluation model serve as a powerful (confidential) road-map for school wide, as well as, individual professional development?

Maybe for this group of superintendents, taking evaluations seriously may be the most important point to consider. I would love for teachers to comment and provide your most important question involving an effective teacher evaluation model. Is your primary concern related to what is efficient and manageable for your principal? Before you comment, let's take a look at these two words.

Efficient: Achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense.
Manageable: Able to be managed, controlled, or accomplished without great difficulty.

I believe 'why' we perform these evaluations and 'how' they are developed are just as important in determining whether these efforts will be successful at accomplishing the ultimate goal - improving student achievement. If improving student achievement is linked directly to the quality of instruction students receive on a day-to-day basis, then it would seem that we would involve teachers on every aspect of the decision making. Instead, fifteen of the seventeen superintendents acknowledged at the end of a two hour meeting that they had made up their mind and were ready to recommend. Keep in mind, the rubrics were never presented other than the number of indicators accompanied with each model.

Model X (76 indicators)
Model Y (60 indicators)
Model Z (20 indicators)

Which model did the fifteen superintendents decide upon? You guessed it...... Model Z!
Does 20 indicators sound efficient and manageable to you?

Until our leaders and principals become educated in these efforts, I am afraid we will experience no significant change. I can guarantee that these rubrics will be as effective as the principal or instructional leader executing the process.