Are You Ready to be Evaluated on the Quality of Your Evaluations?

Ben Mainka's picture

Under the new Public Act 173, more affectionately known as the “educator evaluation” bill in Michigan, there are many stipulations and guidelines that must be followed for teachers and administrators. Many of these are well known, but one of them may be easily overlooked for administrators. Did you know, that if you are a school administrator that your evaluation must include the skill in which you conduct teacher evaluations? Okay, let's get specific about what the law says:

Excerpt from PA 173…

The portion of the annual evaluation that is not based on student growth and assessment data as provided under subdivision (b) or on an evaluation tool as provided under subdivision (c) shall be based on at least the following for each school in which the school administrator works as an administrator or, for a central office-level school administrator, for the entire school district or intermediate school district:

(i) If the school administrator conducts teacher performance evaluations, the school administrator’s proficiency in using the evaluation tool for teachers used by the school district, intermediate school district, or public school academy under section 1249.

This means that if you evaluate others, your evaluation must consider how well you use your adopted evaluation framework and in short – your proficiency in performing evaluations. This may seem challenging, but this should be one of the most important and thoughtful part of a school administrator’s job.

Educator evaluation sometimes gets a fairly negative connotation because many believe it to be a punitive practice where we rank, sort, and file teachers according to an evaluation framework. While nobody will deny the fact that educator evaluation certainly serves the purpose of accountability, we must never forget the other purpose – teacher growth and learning. Ultimately, the overall goal of evaluation should be student learning. When we look to research and find that the number one factor impacting student learning is the quality of the teacher in the classroom followed closely by the quality of the leadership in the school/district, we realize just how important evaluation really is. Therefore, if we can ensure that we have high standards for our teachers (accountability), but follow that up with a system of support (teacher growth and learning), we are on our way to moving the needle for our students in the classroom.

For these reasons, educational leaders should embrace the challenge of being skillful evaluators. A few things you should be asking as an administrator:

  1. Have I been trained and do I have a solid understanding of my district’s adopted evaluation tool?

  2. Do I have the skills and ability to score a teacher’s instructional performance the way that my district’s adopted evaluation tool calls for to ensure my evaluations will be reliable?

  3. Do I have the skills and ability to grow teacher learning as a part of using my district’s adopted evaluation tool?

If you are unsure about any of the questions above, it would be a great idea to start seeking some support. Here are some quick tips:

  1. Contact your district’s point of contact for the evaluation tool they have adopted and ask some clarifying questions and seek out any additional resources.

  2. Use ASCD resources on teacher evaluation and feedback.

  3. Contact MASSP and ask for some support in conducting effective observations and evaluations.

  4. Reach out to a trusted colleague who is competent in observation and feedback and is willing to “show you the ropes” and mentor your growth.

  5. Look for articles from Ed Leadership on effective supervision of staff.

  6. Use articles such as this one and others from the MET project to strengthen your toolbox for observation and evaluation.

One of the best ways you can get support in your evaluation, observation, and feedback skills is to attend the popular MASSP one-day training called Observation and Feedback - Best Practices. This is a training to strengthen your skills regardless of what evaluation tool your district has adopted. The last training for the 2015-16 school year will be held in Lansing at the MELG building on March 7, 2016. We hope you can join us there and invest in your teachers and invest in yourself.