Preparing and Supporting Educators

Adopting new standards and assessing students is a complex task in and of itself, but ensuring that educators are ready to teach new standards and prepare students for new assessments is far more complicated. This important facet of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) implementation is complicated by the confluence of another large-scale systemic set of reforms centered around evaluating educator effectiveness. Spurred by the federal Race to the Top (RTTT) competitions, over the past four years more than 30 states have adopted new laws and policies that set up performance management systems designed to evaluate the performance of educators. Many states set up their new performance management systems in law; however, they left the design of the system and its technical components to the state board of education or a fact-finding advisory entity that makes recommendations to the state board.

Click the below image to hear former Kentucky State Board member Dorie Combs speak on Kentucky's professional development strategy.

All of the evaluation systems set up as part of a winning Race to the Top proposal had to include a measure of student performance. In addition, states with Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) waivers are also required to evaluate educators based in part on student performance. Given that most states are using student test scores from state assessments as the student performance measure, there are obvious implications for educators. Primary among them is the fact that most states will see the number of students proficient on the CCSS drop, which could negatively affect educators whose evaluation results will be based in part on student assessment scores.

If appropriate, state boards of education should consider policy action to address this matter. For example, state boards could hold teachers harmless for the first one or two years of the new CCSS assessment administrations. Holding them harmless might mean that the high-stakes tied to their evaluation ratings are not in effect for this period of time. If possible, they might consider allowing teachers of CCSS assessed grades and subjects to use the student performance measures teachers of untested grades and subjects use, such as Student Learning Objectives (SLOs), for the first one or two years of CCSS assessment administrations. (Both Rhode Island and Georgia are using SLOs and offer many resources on their design and use online.) If a state board has the authority to decide when high-stakes can be tied to evaluation results, these boards may consider delaying that aspect of the system. This approach would work best in states where the performance management systems are still in pilot phase and not in use across the state.

Any policy action on this matter should be taken into careful consideration. Should such action be taken, the state board should make it clear that the action taken does not indicate an unwillingness to hold teachers accountable, but rather a recognition that the CCSS implementation is a transition that requires special consideration for educators when decisions about employment, tenure, and compensation are made based in part on the performance of students on a state assessment. Additionally, states with RTTT grants and ESEA waivers should seek the counsel of U.S Department of Education staff before taking the actions recommended here.

For resources on SLOs, see:

For resources on educator evaluation, see:


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