As the State of Alaska, contemplates a new teacher evaluation system, contingent upon evaluation performance in four categories: exemplary, proficient, basic, or unsatisfactory, many essential factors have remained unexamined. According to the National Education Association (NEA) Anchorage Education Association (AEA) training (2013), “This rating system gathers input from teachers and other stakeholders. This system will include student-learning data beginning July 1, 2015. At least two, but no more than four measures of growth must be used.” A question asked during the training was, “How are itinerant teachers, nurses, librarians, and media educators evaluated, when they do not provide direct instruction to students? Many proponents of this evaluation system believe this organizational method is a means of adding a quantifiable accountability feature of teacher’s performance. However, a reasonable implementation of this system should also consist of multiple measures, which strengthens the teacher’s knowledge, skills, and best practices.
The public has a right to know what is occurring in the classroom through various accountability factors. Educators welcome the opportunity to showcase their talents to receive relative and constructive feedback if the means are fair and involve factors within the educator’s control. As a result of a poor evaluation, teachers who fall below a certain level may be placed on a plan of improvement, etc., per Sec. 14.20.149. Teachers have between 80 and 90 days to show improvement. If there is no improvement, the district may non-retain the teacher. Mentor teacher availability is an essential factor of the 90 and 180 days plan. Mentors are an intricate part of the teaching profession and play a critical role in the practicum experiences of these field-based teacher education programs. They guide teachers by providing supportive teaching materials, feedback, and reflective discussions about the teaching the teacher has done and will do in with his or her students (Azar, 2003, Tok 2011).
According to the AEA training (2013) the test assessments, will need to possess the following:
Accurately reflect student growth based on educator performance.
Specify, a schedule of pre-testing and post-testing.
Specify, the duration(s) of student growth assessment benchmark scheduling.
Weight to be given to student learning data in the evaluation:
20 % 2015-16
20 % 2016-17
35 % 2017-18
50 % 2018-19
An intangible area, not considered in this proposal, is the student’s perceptions of the learning atmosphere. A student’s perception is a crucial portion in how a student perceives his or her success. The Attribution theory (Weiner, 1980, 1992), “Incorporates behavior modification in that it emphasizes the idea, the learner becomes motivated by the pleasant outcome of feeling good about themselves as learners. Current self-perceptions will strongly influence the ways in which they will interpret the success of failure of their current efforts and hence their future tendency to perform these same behaviors.” (Purdue University, n.d., para. 1). The premise of this theory is how well students will perform basic functions and what attributes to past successes or failures. Weiner (1992) used three dimensions to classify attributions: locus, stability, and control. Stability could evoke long lasting causes, like habitual laziness, or transient factors like a causal mood. Control related to the degree to which a situation is under someone’s control, or not subject to someone’s control, such as the outcome dictated by luck (Antaki, 1982). Lastly, locus involves whether the cause is under someone’s “volitional control” (Sujan, 1986).
An important assumption of Attribution theory is people will interpret their environment in such a way as to maintain a positive self-image (Ross & Watres, 2013). When evaluating teacher performance, the perception a student has of his or her abilities is one, which cannot be measured. Student apathy and disenchantment with the school environment are also factors, which reflect a student’s desire to succeed, other variables, such as parental-involvement, special education, and students who are economically disadvantaged are somewhat immeasurable variables, but visible dictators in how a student retains and comprehends material. Creating a quality system that makes every teacher an excellent teacher requires time, resources, and support. Many of those attributes gleam through continued professional development, collaborative practices involving reflection, and availability to professional learning communities.
In addition, a decrease in standardized testing, attention to student’s attendance; allowing alternative school schedules, ideas to maximize student learning, inviting parents, advisory boards, and the integration of the learning process. Over the past few years, we’ve witnessed an influx of methods designed to improve teacher effectiveness and student learning. Proponents of this teacher evaluation system follow the equation of student achievement of excellent teaching + an excellent teacher= student success, without attention paid to effective family-school partnership. An alternative formula would look like excellent teaching + excellent teacher + involved parents= student success. According to NEA-AEA (2013), “We believe parents have a direct effect on student learning, and should have a rich variety of opportunities to be involved in schools. We support family education and other methods of inviting parents and local leaders into schools and helping them to become integrated into the learning process.” Parents are an essential component of the school’s learning and assessing environments.
High Quality Education
In accordance with NEA-AEA (2013), “It believes students and teachers deserve high quality evaluation systems that provide tools for continuously tailored instruction, enhanced practices, and increased student learning.” The conundrum before the district is, “Which tests or measures, successfully assesses student growth?” It does not adequately explain the 50% factorization into a teacher’s overall evaluation, nor does it address funding and how trainings will take place. NEA-AEA (2013) noted evaluation of the effectiveness and statistical validity of state mandated tests but not limited to the Standard-based Assessment (SBA), Measures of Academic Progress (MAP), and TerraNova tests. NEA-AEA (2013) noted evaluations of psychologists, nurses, and Occupational Therapist, etc., who are not teachers, evaluated by principals, who do not have first-hand knowledge on the details of their positions. Teacher’s evaluations must include clear, objective, credible rubrics, and all teachers and evaluators must have training on this new system before utilization.
As districts look at the use of evaluations, many items come to mind: first things first; beginning with the end in mind, what is that we want to accomplish, developmental levels for educators, positive intent, growth through professional development, and an aligned system. Excellent teaching requires both new and experienced teachers possess and gain insight through content knowledge of content pedagogy, demonstrated teaching skills, formula for creating a high-qualified force requires rigorous standards for teacher preparation and licensure. Effective sustained professional development for teacher assessment and evaluation models should contain: co-created, integrated, multiple measures, teacher input, instructional practice, growth and contributions though student growth and learning. Additional items for consider are the validity, reliability, and comparability of these tests and how do multiple measures of teacher effectiveness; multiple measures of student learning tie together. Multiple evidence-based measures for teachers should include, but should not be limited to: demonstrating academic rigor in all student assignments, ongoing evaluations of student’s work, and mentoring of other teachers. Use current research on teaching practices in specific grade levels or subjects, and active participation in grade-level or subject teams to support all students. More importantly, engage families in their child’s learning process, and utilize multi-year trends to show growth in student learning through various assessments.
The Alaska Department of Education approved nationally recognized teacher and principal evaluation frameworks:
Charlotte Danielson Model
Marzano’s Teacher Evaluation
University of Washington’s Center for Education Leadership Five Dimensions of Teaching and Learning
Districts must develop a consistent language, which is coherent and brings an inclusion of collaboration between the district, teachers, and propose best practices for educators through planning, meeting, and training. Mandated assessments used to evaluate students and their educators, should independently investigate the approved frameworks to assure validity and reliability. The evaluation system must also contain actionable data, which takes into account the unique learning experiences of students and educator’s inimitable paths to educating all students.
Alaska, (Director) (2013, January 18). NEA-Alaska, Leading the Profession 2013. Delegate Assembly 2013. Lecture conducted from National Education Association Anchorage Education Association, Anchorage.
Antaki, C. & Brewin, C. (1982). Attributions and Psychological Change. New York, NY.
Attribution Theory. (n.d.). Purdue University. Retrieved from
Azar, A. (2003). Okul Deneyimi ve Öğretmenlik Uygulaması Derslerine ilişkin
Görüşlerin Yansımaları (The reflection about school experience and teaching
practices courses). Milli Eğitim Dergisi( Journal of National Education), 159,
181- 194. MEB, Ankara.
Newly Adopted Teacher & Principal Evaluation Regulations. (2012, December 17). Alaska Department of Education. Retrieved January 19, 2013, from education.alaska.gov/TeacherCertification/pdf/evaluation_reg_faqs.pdf
Ross, B., & Wartes, D. (2013). The Impact of Corporations on Educating Youth: The Story of the Rural Alaska Honors Institute (RAHI). IABPAD Conference Perceedings, 1, 106-113.
Sujan, H. (1986). Smarter Versus Harder: An Exploratory Attributional Analysis of
Salespeople’s Motivation. Journal of Marketing Research. Vol. 23. (February) 41-49.
Weiner, B. (1972) Theories of Motivation from mechanism to cognition. Chicago: Markham