Executive Summary

Amelia Hodges, Ed.D

Please tell me about your background in your current position?

Wow, I have been in education for 16 years. Prior to that I was sales in sales management. I was a classroom teacher and worked in a district office. I came to the Department in 2000 and held several different positions and am currently the Associate Secretary. In our branch we do all sorts of things from prison education, to Title I, educational technology, athletics, teacher licensure, post-secondary approval.

What has worked well for Delaware as you engage in your reform efforts?

Continuous feedback from teachers PLUS acting on it every year. That was the biggest thing we could do for our teachers.
 
Amelia Hodges

What worked best for us all along, from the beginning of DPAS II, is that we have a done an annual evaluation of the system with teachers, administrators and specialists. We have done surveys and focus groups and know how it is working on the ground.

Was your size helpful?

I think geography is more important than population size. I think if we were densely populated but still close enough to where we would still be able to do the work, things would be similar. On the other hand, if you take a larger state, there is a different story. It is harder to convene people without missing significant time.

Anything else worked well at a high level?

Continuous feedback from teachers PLUS acting on it every year. That was the biggest thing we could do for our teachers. The biggest thing we could do for a teachers, specialists, and administrators is let them know we are working to improve ourselves just like we are asking them to.

What hasn’t worked well?

The timeline for student growth/non-tested grades and subjects. We’ve changed the timeline, so that we could ensure that what is doing is sound and structured.

What are the big questions moving forward?

Related to Components 1-4, the big question is what will we find when we collect our data for the first time. We will be doing onsite monitoring for documentation quality. This will be a baseline year for how teachers and specialist are rated within the evaluation system. What will we find is a big question. What patterns will we see? What are the outliers? How will that inform how we move forward? In terms of 5, what are the outliers? How do we make it better moving forward?

Any other obstacles?

In order to ensure consistency across the state, we have to develop different processes to ensure calibration of our evaluators. It would be easy to gauge whether they understand the frameworks and process, or document the evaluation in a standard manner; but what is difficult to assess is whether they can rate what they see and pull the correct evidence from what they see. To address that, we need a huge video bank that our master evaluators can view.

We are talking with the US Dept. of Education. There are financial considerations and proprietary video consideration/releases considerations.

What are the big milestones you are looking to hit this school year?

1.     Data from 100% of our LEAs, by the end of this school year. All of the data around the teacher evaluation process from every school, every charter and every year.

2.     Data from each of our LEAs on the areas of strength and weaknesses around documentation.

3.     Growth measures for every teacher and specialist by the end of the school year.

How does teacher engagement interact with point # 3?

Teachers have already convened to identify existing measures, around growth measures. They are now convening to develop additional assessments where existing measures are not available.

Is capacity around teacher engagement a challenge?

I don’t see it is a challenge. Maybe it is a factor of the fact that we are always talking to each other. Teachers probably understand policy here a little better than they would in other places where they are removed from it. We are all teachers, so there is probably less translation than there needs to be in other places.

When we convene groups we are careful to have a stratified sample (rural, suburban, urban districts etc.) and they all have voices, and then once we have all the voices we can say “ how do we shape this policy so that it is flexible enough, but not too flexible.” It is our mindset going in.

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