Executive Summary

Erin O’Hara

Please describe your background.

I have been in Tennessee for seven years. I was the governor’s education policy advisor both at the time our First to the Top legislation passed and during the implementation of the Teacher Education Advisory Committee. Now, I direct the First to the Top  work for the state.

What has worked well in Tennessee with regards to teacher evaluation?

  •  Public Policy. We put a lot of thought into how the policy works. For instance, we have a student growth measure for all teachers, we have a student achievement measure for all teachers, and we have a qualitative component for all teachers. We put a lot of thought into how the aforementioned fits together and did a lot of modeling on what types of experiences we’ve seen in the past with value added, student 
    We’ve stepped up our outreach to educators, we have pretty good feedback loops with educators and the communication is getting better. You could never do enough communication on people who will be evaluated.
     
    Erin O'Hara : Assistant Commissioner for Data and Communications at Tennessee Department of Educationachievement and the TAP rubric. We got a really good sense of where teachers will fall along the distribution so that most people will fall the middle category and some people will fall into the bottom and top category.
     
  • Value added data. We are fortunate to have value added data for 45 percent of teachers and measures for non-tested grades and subjects. We now have an overall composite measure for schools, a numeracy composite measure for schools, and a literacy composite measure for schools.
     
  • Data collection. Evaluators are capturing the observation data and we can see the data in real time.
     
  • External group validation. We had an external research group, Tennessee’s Consortium on Research, Evaluation and Development, looking at what we did and giving feedback during the pilot phase and implementation.

What hasn’t worked well and if you could go back in time, what would you change?

  • We’ve stepped up our outreach to educators, we have pretty good feedback loops with educators and the communication is getting better. You could never do enough communication on people who will be evaluated.
     
  • In an ideal world, you train BOTH evaluators and evaluatees on the rubric. To help evaluatees, we’ve made a rubric training portal available to everyone in the state, but people only have so much time to go to such a portal.
     
  • For training, getting people in front of other people is optimal. We’ve also had, Tim Gaddis, the former director of evaluation Skype to people all over the state. Skype is financially viable and almost as effective as being face to face.

What are the big questions that remain?

How do we get to more individualized measures of student achievement; and how can we most effectively use the information from the evaluation to help educators?

The Federal Government and Teacher Evaluation

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