Delaware’s Department of Education has finalized how teachers and professional staff across the state will be evaluated in the coming school year.
Over the last year, there have been meetings, negotiations and hours of discussions coming down to a single facet of the Delaware Performance Appraisal System (DPAS II) known as Component 5.
Other components of the evaluation program include planning and preparation, the classroom environment, instruction, and professional responsibilities. Those portions had been settled and used previously, but the student improvement component has been in flux until this week.
On Tuesday, Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy sent an email to educators around the state outlining the details on how they will be evaluated in the 2012-2013 term. The department has also set up a number of sessions to train teams of people to take details of the evaluations back to their schools.
The portion of Component 5 that had concerned teachers and their advocates the most was the use of Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS) scores to determine half of the component’s score. Teachers and other certified professionals including nurses and librarians who had no interaction with the math and reading testing were to be assigned a cohort of students and the cohort’s scores would be used for their evaluations.
This past school year Component 5 was only considered when it raised the rating of a teacher in DCAS-tested grades and subjects to “highly effective,” making them eligible for incentive programs, including bonuses.
In the upcoming 2012-2013 school year DCAS math and reading scores will account for 50 percent of Component 5 for only those teachers who teach those subjects. For example, a fourth grade math teacher will use his or her class’s DCAS scores through the year in the math portion of the assessment to gauge student growth.
For other professionals and teachers, DCAS scores have been abandoned in favor of other measures. Those measures include growth goals and in subjects that are not evaluated by DCAS, include other standardized testing, grades and other professional goals. Some of these other measures will be used for the other half of DCAS teachers’ Component 5 as well.
“Those other folks who are ‘non-DCAS teachers’ will be using a combination of two things,” said Frederika Jenner, president of the Delaware State Education Association. “If you are a science, social studies, or a culinary arts teacher, your evaluation will be based on performance of your own students. Some evaluations are commercially produced, some are homegrown and proven to be effective measures of growth. There are some things that are comparable across the state and some things that are local.”
All of the internal, external and growth measures are approved for use by the state. When teachers and professionals report for school in the Fall, they will select their measures for evaluation and collect that information throughout the year for review by building administrators, when that information will be combined with components I-IV, said Alison Kepner, spokeswoman for DDOE.
Jenner said she was pleased with the current resolution of how to structure Component 5, but added that teacher evaluations, and the criteria surrounding them, must remain adaptable to reflect future changes in student assessment.
“Component 5 and DPAS II is strictly a teacher issue and I am glad to have worked with former secretary of education Lillian Lowery and the current secretary, Mark Murphy,” she said. “There were a lot of ideas and entanglements to get through to craft a process that is fair and valid – meaning it measures what a teacher teaches. (Evaluations are now) a process that is transparent, as much as we can make it that way. We hope it becomes easy to understand.”
To work on communication throughout the process of refining Component 5 both DSEA and DDOE posted Frequently Asked Questions posts on their respective websites. However, there still managed to be quite a bit of misunderstanding while officials met with teachers to narrow the student improvement criteria. Officials hope regular of emails and conference established by Murphy this summer and DDOE training sessions next week will make DPAS II process clearer to all.
“Validating and honoring the work that Delaware teachers do every day to advance student achievement is important, and we believe it is our collective role to advance this work through an evaluation system,” Murphy said in the email to Delaware educators. “Undoubtedly, there will be challenges ahead as we implement this new approach to Component V. Making sure our system is sound, working with educators at the level of implementation and facing these challenges together in common purpose will ensure that we successfully address them and continue to make gains in student college and career readiness.”