Executive Summary

Laura Thompson

Tell us a little about yourself

I work as a district reading specialist and instructional coach for the Red Clay Consolidated School District in Delaware. I have helped with Race to the Top implementation through the state Department of Education's Student Growth Committee and I have helped bring Response to Intervention (RtI) to my district. I also organized "Read with a Hero Day" in schools in Northern Delaware through which military members, police officers, emergency medical technicians and firefighters read to students and answered questions from children. I have also represented the United States on education overseas through the Japan Fulbright Memorial Foundation.

Why did you become involved in teacher evaluation reform efforts in your state?

I wanted to be involved in the way I was evaluated. As an Instructional Coach, I was not represented in the conversations I was hearing. I was worried that there wouldn’t be anyone to represent me and my colleagues.

How would you improve the process of teacher engagement in the reform efforts?

First, though the state department made it a point to email Delaware teachers announcing the work and inviting participants, I have colleagues who never realized they had received an invitation. I think that including stronger wording or more urgent and specific language would make it clear to educators how the work will impact our jobs. Our state uses a telephone tree program called Alert Now that sends messages to employees. The state could have used a system like this to target teachers, reiterating the importance of the meetings.

Second, the state should limit barriers to educator participation by providing alternatives to live meeting attendance. I had to drive a far distance to get to the meeting, which was a burden on me and could have been a barrier to participation for other teachers. Having a webinar, podcast, or simulcast of the meeting could have benefited those who lived the furthest away but still wanted to be involved. I would also suggest that the state department hold meetings in other locations throughout the state.

Third, I would recommend enhanced communication for stakeholders. As a participant, we were able to have a Q&A session. It would be helpful to have this information available to teachers, school leaders, parents, and community members throughout the state. The state should also make it clear that while all ideas are welcome, not all may be used. There should be a clear process for explaining why certain solutions were selected.

What other advice would you give to districts/states as they consider teacher evaluation reform efforts? 

Listen to all stakeholders in the early stages of the process. Bring them on early enough to provide input and generate new ideas. Ensure they feel like a valued addition to the work.

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