Starting this fall, Kentucky superintendents will use the state’s new PGES (Professional Growth and Effectiveness System) to evaluate principals as building academic leaders. To do so, they have to understand how those principals are using the same system to evaluate teacher skills in the classroom.
Thursday, dozens of superintendents and a number of district instructional supervisors spent an intensive day studying research and other states’ experiences as part of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents’ summer conference in Bowling Green.
Laurie Leeper with Estill Co Supt Bert Hensely and Instr Supv Tonya Issacs.
“Effective teachers make a tremendous difference, particularly in low-achieving schools. One effective teacher in a team can make a difference not only in his or her class but in the surrounding classes of the team she or he works with,” said Dr. Lauri Leeper, a Virginia-based researcher on teacher and administrator effectiveness.
“As a superintendent, what can you do to help your administrators help your teachers become as effective as possible?” Leeper said. “You are the most powerful person for change implementation if you believe in it. You can transfer that belief to others, not by saying, ‘This is great,’ but by providing them with the resources they need to be successful.”
Leeper’s three-session, four-hour training focused on development of student growth goals (SGGs), a key element in the PGES teacher evaluation model.
“There are two ways to implement SGGS: as a state add-on requirement – ‘We’re going to get through this!’ – or as a catalyst for deep, rich teacher and school improvement – ‘We’re going to embrace it, have some successes and failures, take them in stride and get better as a result of it,’” said the former elementary and middle school teacher.
Leeper cited extensive research on the impact of SGGs on learning:
“SGGs focus on student results instead of focusing on what teachers do in the classroom,” Leeper said, spelling out a five-step process for crafting “smart (Specific ,Measurable, Appropriate, Realistic and Time-bound) student growth goals into teacher evaluations.· Students gain between 18 and 41points when teachers set and communicate clear goals for learning.· Formative assessments of classroom instruction can lead to increases in student learning by as much as two grade levels· Schools that show multiple years of improvement use data to make decisions, and then encourage teachers to use the data to make instructional decisions.
Step 1: Teachers determine curriculum focus and how that content area will be measured.Through a series of roundtable discussions, Leeper got the administrators to brainstorm their roles and opportunities to assist principals – and through them, teachers – in making PGES work for educators and students alike.
Step 2: Teachers create SGGs based on current data from those assessments.
Step 3: Teachers select the teaching and learning strategies they will use to achieve the SGGs.
Step 4: Teachers monitor progress, reflect on what’s working and what isn’t working, and with their principals, determine when to continue, adjust or end strategies that are leading to the SGGs.
Step 5: Teachers and principals determine whether students met SGGs using the next round of assessment data.
“One of the lessons that’s been learned about developing student growth goals is that it takes time to get it done,” she said. “That has to be planned for. The point is for you to go back home today and plan for tangible actions that can help your principals.”
One district’s experience
One of the first districts to pilot the early stages of PGES, starting three years ago, was Gallatin County. Superintendent Dot Perkins cautioned her colleagues that the process in her district isn’t perfect today, but “if we tried to go back to the old evaluation system, there would be a mutiny. Our teachers love the feedback. They love discussing student performance. And they love being treated as a professional.”
Perkins echoed what Leeper noted from her research of other states implementing new educator evaluation processes – it takes time and resources.
“Principals have to be in classrooms; they can’t do all the bus loadings, the cafeteria monitorings, go to the Rotary club and do this process well. They have to let go of some things,” Perkins said, adding that her district has placed assistant principals and/or instructional coaches in the schools as new resources for the academic teams in each building.
“Principals carry most of the water on this. They will sit down and go over the plan with teachers, then the observation cycle begins. A majority of their time is spent in the classrooms (while) the assistant principals runs the building each day,” she said.
Ultimately, Perkins, who is retiring this month, said she is confident her district is on the right track to make PGES work for educators and for students.
“Before, our evaluation was a check list: meets, does not meets, exceeds,” she said. “(PGES) will differentiate your teacher, show who is skilled and who is not, who gets results and who doesn’t. This process helps teachers and principals grow professionally.
“I’ve told our teachers, ‘If we do this just for compliance, we’ve wasted our time and money. We are here to grow and do what’s best for students,” she said.
The KASS summer conference wraps up today.
Friday, June 20, 2014
Superintendents urged to embrace PGES
This from Brad Hughes at KSBA: