Iowa council releases recommendations on teacher and school administrator evaluation
Members of the Council on Educator Development today released their final report of recommendations for Iowa teacher and school administrator evaluations. The recommendations focus on improving the current system with a model that allows for more growth and meaningful feedback, multiple measures that include student outcomes, and more differentiation among educators based on their unique roles.
The final report was developed over three years by the council, which was established as part of House File 215, a comprehensive education reform package adopted by Iowa legislators and signed by Gov. Branstad in 2013. The report will be sent to the Governor, Legislature and the State Board of Education for consideration.
“There was high interest from everyone involved in the Council on Educator Development that any new system would serve as a catalyst for professional growth,” said Great Prairie Area Education Agency Chief Administrator Jon Sheldahl, who chaired the council. “We ended up with a recommendation for a very balanced and comprehensive system that meets the needs of all educators.”
The council’s recommendations for improving the current system include:
- Shifting from a “meets/does not meet” rating system to a more refined learning progression system that is aligned to Iowa’s standards for teachers and school leaders and allows for growth and feedback along a continuum of rating levels. Learning progressions describe the increasing complexity of educator practice for each teaching and leadership standard.
- Differentiating training of evaluators based on the type of educator being evaluated, as well as the experience level of the evaluator.
- Aligning the frequency of administrator evaluations with that of teacher evaluations through the use of individual professional development plans and a comprehensive three-year review.
Joe Judge, a council member who teaches social studies at Albia Community High School, said a learning progression system puts the emphasis on coaching and collaboration that is supportive rather than punitive.
“This allows for honest conversations between the educator and their evaluator about how best to improve practice,” Judge said. “A quality system is not based on scoring teachers, it's based on professional growth. I feel good about the recommendation being cohesive, consistent, fair and reliable.”
The council also recommended strategies for better implementation of the current system, including the use of:
- Collaborative and reflective practices that include constructive feedback.
- Multiple measures of performance, including but not limited to, an array of indicators of student learning outcomes.
- A balanced evaluation system that includes annual accountability in the form of the Individual Professional Development Plan and a comprehensive three-year review for all teachers.
- The Iowa Teaching Standards and Iowa Standards for School Leaders.
The council reviewed evaluation systems nationwide and examined how educators were teaching content, managing the classroom, monitoring student progress and creating a safe and supportive environment. The council visited with national experts and listened to Iowa teachers and administrators about their current evaluation practices. In addition, the council examined the role of professional development and concluded it should not be a one-size-fit-all approach but crafted to individual teacher and administrator needs.
The council sought input on draft recommendations more than a year ago through a survey of Iowa teachers, administrators and school board members that produced responses from about 1,000 people.
“I’m very grateful to the Iowans on this council who gave careful consideration to an issue that impacts educators and school leaders across the state,” Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise said. “Iowa is working hard to support teaching and improve student achievement, and the solid recommendations approved by the Council on Educator Development reinforce that effort.”
To read the full report, visit the Council on Educator Development webpage on the Iowa Department of Education’s website.