State Strategies from Round 2 of No Child Left Behind Act Waivers
Washington D.C. – Today, the Center for American Progress released a new analysis of the multiple measures and multiple methods used in new teacher evaluation systems, including the weighting of these measures, to determine a composite score of teacher effectiveness. Research shows that an effective teacher is key to student success. But determining what evidence best reflects teacher effectiveness and how this information can be used to improve the quality of teaching are among the significant issues facing public education today.
Dynamic reforms effecting teacher evaluation and support are now happening in states and school districts. These reforms are inspired in part by the U.S. Department of Education’s competitive grant programs, including Race to the Top, which require new standards and assessments in our public schools, data systems capable of measuring student growth, and human capital systems designed to recruit, develop, and retain effective teachers. This effort is matched by recent priorities of the Teacher Incentive Fund supporting district-wide evaluation systems that reward teacher success. The Education Department’s decision to provide waivers from key provisions of or flexibility within the Elementary and Secondary Education Act—also known as No Child Left Behind—offers a further boost and a framework for states to make these long overdue reforms in a coherent way.
On February 28, 2012, 26 states and the District of Columbia submitted requests to the Department of Education for waivers. Twenty-three states were ultimately approved; two states (Idaho and Illinois) have pending applications; one state (Vermont) withdrew; and one state (Iowa) was rejected. (Note: Idaho’s application was approved on October 17, 2012, while this paper was drafted and is therefore not a part of this analysis.) Eleven other states received waiver approvals in an earlier round. As part of the second round of requests, all states presented plans to raise standards, improve accountability, and support reforms to improve principal and teacher effectiveness. These plans provide an important view into the decisions and actions of states as they design, build on, or perfect the systems for these new reforms.
The report released today focuses on one piece of this very large set of transformations: the multiple measures and multiple methods used in new teacher evaluation systems, including the weighting of these measures, to determine a composite score of teacher effectiveness. The data source for our analysis is the plans of 23 second-round waiver applicants approved by the U.S. Department of Education as of August 2012. These include the plans received and approved for Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
The report’s author, Glenda L. Partee reviewed these various reform plans and found that the design and implementation of new systems of evaluation and support are truly works in progress. It’s clear that this work will be an iterative process and that it should be open to review and adjustment as new research and the results of pilot implementations surface. For now, the state efforts and the waiver process both represent a rich laboratory of exploration and reform that bears watching for lessons to be learned, as well as for necessary corrections to be made. The paper, entitled Using Multiple Evaluation Measures to Improve Teacher Effectiveness provides the following key observations about teacher evaluation systems:
- This is hard work that is being approached differently by states while they implement multiple reforms.
- Measures used to assess educator effectiveness are diverse and cannot be captured by only one or two indicators.
- States are expanding the measures used to determine teacher effectiveness for nontested grades and subjects.
- Systems have diverse purposes.
- Successful systems need an infrastructure of support.
Against this evolving backdrop, the paper concludes with the following policy recommendations:
- The U.S. Department of Education should closely monitor the successes and problems experienced by these states and the District of Columbia as they implement these new systems of evaluation and support them going forward.
- The states and the District of Columbia should continue to heed emerging findings from research and evaluation and seek feedback from their own efforts to ensure continuous improvements.
- The U.S. Department of Education and philanthropic organizations should continue to support improvements in the tools and infrastructure necessary for the development and sustainability of these new evaluation systems.
- Lessons learned from these efforts must inform the future direction of education reform through the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
Read the report: Using Multiple Evaluation Measures to Improve Teacher Effectiveness, by Glenda L. Partee
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