In March, the BEU and BSC ratified the Educator Evaluation Agreement; we think this new agreement strengthens the process and increases the rights of individual educators over our previous agreement.
In theory the process is supposed to promote collaboration, constructive feedback, and risk-taking. We continue to hope that the school district will support the ability of evaluators to produce constructive evaluations. In many cases, – perhaps most – however, evaluators themselves are either too overworked or insufficiently trained for this to happen. We therefore negotiated an agreement that safeguards educators from being harmed by poorly- or improperly-done evaluations.
Below are highlights of some of the important items in our new agreement that you should be aware of.
Self Assessment Protections
At the beginning of your cycle, you will create a self-assessment. Since the purpose of the self-assessment is for the educator to reflect upon their strengths and weaknesses, the self-assessment cannot be used as part of your evaluation rating. Your evaluator may not suggest changes or edits to the self-assessment, nor can you be required to make changes. The evaluator’s role in the self-assessment is merely to read it, acknowledge it, and use it to inform the rest of the process.
Goals and Ratings without Student Outcomes
No student outcomes (test scores, grades, benchmarks, etc.) can be used to rate you. So, when writing your goals, keep student performance indicators out. The “measureable” part of your goal indicates the actions that you as an educator will take. For example, don’t write a goal like “80% of my students will show proficiency on a math assessment about fractions.” Instead, you might write, “I will teach at least 10 lessons this year on fractions.” Thus, you will be evaluated on your ability to provide opportunities for your students – not on how well your students perform, which in many ways is out of your control.
For some evaluators, this may seem like a big change, so it’s important to know your rights here and push back (or seek assistance from the BEU) if your evaluator is pressing you to include student performance indicators / outcomes in your goals. Also, while group goals are allowed, you cannot be required to use group goals. Choose goals that are meaningful to you and your growth as an educator.
Observations Conducted More Openly
We negotiated some stronger language around observations. Announced observations are supposed to last a full class period; if this doesn’t happen you are entitled to another observation.
In the new agreement, for an unannounced observation to “count” as an official unannounced observation, there must be a pre-determined signal between the educator and evaluator (so that the educator knows that they are being observed). If this does not happen, then the evaluator may not use any observations collected during this time as evidence for the evaluation.
All observations must be followed by a post-observation “conversation” with you within 5 school days, which must be an “in person” meeting. The subsequent write-up must include evidence of your perspective on what the evaluator initially observed or reported.
You should know that administrators have the right to observe at any time, but that for their observations to be used as evidence for your evaluation the above must be followed.
You’ll need only one piece of evidence for each goal and each of the four standards. This means you will generally only need 6 pieces of evidence. (Note that a single piece of evidence can count towards more than one standard and/or goal). If the evaluator thinks you need more evidence, they have the right to ask for additional evidence and need to explain what they expect, and then you’ll have two weeks to provide this evidence.
We recommend that you keep a running file of evidence you might want to use at the end of your cycle. It’s a pain to have to search for things at the last minute, especially if you’re under the gun and your evaluator asks for additional evidence.
Missed Evaluation Submission Deadlines
If the evaluator misses the deadline for filing the summative assessment or the formative evaluation in 2 year plans (barring extenuating circumstances), your plan is extended by an extra year – in other words, you cannot be penalized for the evaluator’s delayed filing.
If you are rated Needs Improvement or Unsatisfactory, your evaluator must have a face-to-face conversation with you about your evaluation.
The BSC agreed to continue not using the Exemplary rating unless it is negotiated with the BEU. In addition, we successfully negotiated specific language stating that you cannot be prevented from receiving a Proficient rating because you declined to do work outside of your contractual hours.
Finally, if you have Professional Status and think you’ve been evaluated unfairly and have received a Needs Improvement or Unsatisfactory, you may request a review by the Evaluation Advisory Committee. If you are a Pre-PTS educator and have concerns about your evaluation, you should also contact the BEU. Our evaluation process is cumbersome and onerous – and we all question its usefulness. Unfortunately much of it is mandated by state law. We can and should engage politically to try to end unhelpful mandates like this, but in the meantime we are confident that our current agreement provides some very strong protections for educators.
The new evaluation is the result of over a year’s worth of work and negotiations between representatives of the BEU and the superintendent. BEU representatives on the negotiating team were Jody Curran, Mark Goldner and Jessica Wender-Shubow. Don’t hesitate to contact any of us with your questions and/or concerns.
— Mark Goldner (Heath)