Professional Educators

Historic Change at Stake in Seattle

Negotiations continue in Seattle between the Seattle Education Association and the school district. Negotiations continue today (Thursday) according to a post last night:

“Much progress has been made at the negotiation table this week. As you know, Monday was added this week and the teams met for a half of a day. Both Tuesday and Wednesday, the teams met for full days and intense discussions.

“The teams will again meet on Thursday for another full day that may even extend into the evening. There has even been talk of adding more days if tomorrow does not provide enough time.”

The following from SEA’s website explains the situation and the details the historic change already negotiated by Seattle educators. Click the link below for a video on the situation in the school district.

Why the Professional Growth and Evaluation Joint Proposal is Better for Students and Teachers

For the past two years, Seattle educators have worked hand in hand with top district administrators to create a new model for growth and evaluation that focuses on helping Seattle’s students succeed. Now our superintendent is attempting a last-minute end-run around that collaborative process by demanding that teacher evaluations be tied to student test scores. So what’s in the Professional Growth and Evaluation plan (PG&E) that was developed jointly by SEA and the district? Why is it a historic change, how does it benefit students and help close the achievement gap?


It makes student progress the foundation of teachers’ professional growth

  • All certificated teachers will set annual student achievement goals which are specific and measurable.
  • Using the Professional Practice Standards as a guide, teachers will set professional growth goals to help obtain student achievement goals.
  • Recognizes clearly that “Student growth data shall be relevant to the teacher and subject matter, and must be based on multiple measures that may include classroom based, district based, and state based assessments as well as, attendance, discipline data, mobility and completion (course or year) rates of students. Student growth means the change in student achievement between two points in time.”
  • The joint PG&E plan focuses on student achievement goals AND linking Professional goals that enhance our professional teaching practice. SERVE sets student achievement goals without accountability for enhancing professional practice.

It helps take the guesswork and bias out of educators’ evaluations

  • Uses clear standards based on four domains from the research of Charlotte Danielson that have been tried and tested in other districts where improvement has been documented. The four domains are: Planning and Preparation, Classroom Environment, Instructional Skill and Professional Responsibility
  • Sets clear indicators of acceptable performance based on standards within each domain.
  • Culturally relevant practices are integrated in all four domains.
  • Establishes a four-level rating system: Innovative, Proficient, Basic and Unsatisfactory.

It increases the level of accountability for educators with a focus on great teachers in every classroom

  • For newer educators, it increases the number of required observations and conferences by administrators.
  • Requires any teachers not in the top two levels in any domain – Proficient or Innovative – to be on a Plan of Support.
  • Improvement plans are clearly defined for administrators and educators.
  • Establishes a support system in the form of Human Resource Consulting Teachers to assist educators who are on Performance Improvement Plans.
  • Maintains probationary process for either improvement or dismissal for those deemed Unsatisfactory in any of the four domains.
  • PG & E would be phased in beginning this year to replace the current evaluation system while ensuring that it is implemented with fidelity. It would be fully implemented by 2013-2014.
  • All teachers will participate in collaborative groups called Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s).
  • Enhances collaborative work amongst educators focused on the academic achievement of students with an emphasis on culturally relevant practice.

It uses student test data for teacher growth, not punishment

  • Educators are professionals and believe in accountability. The joint plan negotiated with the district mirrors the state’s goals to use test data correctly to improve teaching, and it has the support of Seattle’s educators.
  • The big difference? The state plan means teachers will be evaluated on their ability to use the student data to modify their instruction (which happens every day in the classroom) and, unlike SERVE, would not misuse student assessment results to deem teachers “good or bad.”
  • In addition to test data, SERVE would also rely on student surveys at the high school level. This ignores that some students may lack the sophistication to provide detailed qualitative feedback on instructional techniques. For instance, is a teacher “mean” or does that teacher simply set high standards and hold students accountable? In an era of instant communications, students could easily organize a negative evaluation for even great teachers whom they simply don’t like. The likely outcome of SERVE is skewed data that would not be reliable for high-stakes personnel decisions.

Click to see video:

Steve Snider

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