About That “Proficiency” Requirement for All Teachers in NCEES – An Idea On How to Strengthen Teacher Evaluations

“For the purposes of this policy, “proficient” shall be defined as achieving a rating of proficient, or higher, on three of the five standards of the NC Educator Evaluation System (NCEES), provided that the standard related to pedagogy (Standard IV in NCEES) is rated at the level of proficient, or higher. Teachers on an abbreviated evaluation plan must achieve a rating of proficient, or higher, on the standard related to pedagogy in order to be deemed “proficient”.

For educators whose licenses expire on or after June 30, 2019, “proficient” shall be
defined as achieving a rating of proficient or higher on all of the five standards of the NC Educator Evaluation System (NCEES), or both Standards I and IV for abbreviated evaluations.”

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The above is from the NC State Board of Education Policy Manual concerning General Licensure Requirements as updated in July of this past summer.

And yes, it is a frequently visited and “revised” document.

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The idea of every teacher needing to be “proficient” in all of the assigned evaluation standards does not seem out-of-line, even for those who have already achieved “career-status.”

What seems most distressing is how evaluations can potentially be narrowly conducted.

As it stands, an administrator is assigned a certain number of teachers to evaluate. Through PDP’s (Professional Development Plans), observations, and evaluations based on many rubrics, a teacher receives a rating on every standard applicable. Teachers can give evidence and other supporting details, but the administrator only sees the teacher for a limited time, and it’s not a slight on administrators; they have some of the toughest jobs on the planet that extend beyond the scope of one physical person.

As the NCEES (North Carolina Educator Effectiveness System) is designed to measure teacher effectiveness, it is hard to conceive that one administrator could actively see how well all assigned teachers are doing on all standards for each school year. That administrator must not only be a strong instructional leader (and I am blessed to have has those administrators), but also be among the teachers and students frequently, and have the ability to ask good questions and listen to feedback.

But would it not also be good if part of the evaluation process came from other teachers?

In schools, we speak of collaboration. Effective teachers collaborate and use other teachers as vital resources and sounding boards. Some schools use a PLT model – a Professional Learning Team that meets weekly to go over pedagogical approaches and strategies with others who teach the same levels and courses. Effective PLT’s help tremendously. They also would know what to look for in those other teachers’ classrooms to see if “proficiency” is at least being met. So, what if they had that capacity?

Teachers should have the time and ability to observe other teachers in classrooms not to be “grading” what other teachers do, but to help other teachers objectively look at what they could do to help those students even more.

We used to have a seven-period day with two planning periods. It meant more time per student, more time to plan, more time to experiment with what would help students most. It also gave more time for teachers to be with other teachers and collaborate. But with the economic constraints that the state places on public schools, teachers now are teaching more classes and more students in a given school year.

But if we want teachers to be more than “proficient” for our students, then they need to have resources  for them to use. One of those resources is TIME. And that TIME would allow or teachers to use other resources like OTHER TEACHERS.

When a teacher is being evaluated under NCEES, would it not be advantageous for that teacher to have been observed by other teachers whose sole aim is to help? All of the input and constructive criticism could be the very insight or input needed to make that teacher more than “proficient.”

Imagine what ideas and strategies could be gleaned by even the most veteran of teachers when they observe their peers in the classroom setting. Imagine the natural coaching that could happen.

And then when the actual evaluation occurs, a slew of teachers could vouch for the very teachers they observed and with whom they conversed and collaborated.

Teachers should not be stranded on islands, even when they are literally yards from each other for most of a school day. A strained time schedule can create those islands. But allowing time for teachers to frequently observe each other in the classroom setting could build bridges and turn “proficiency” into “effectiveness.”

And all would benefit. Especially students.

 

 

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