Shortly after Massachusetts Secretary of Education;Matt;Malone;was;sworn;into;office;last January, he was asked by MTA Today how
student test scores should be used in the educator
evaluation process. “If we can show the quality of
work that students are doing, I think that is a fair
mechanism,” he responded. “I would stress that it
can’t just be one thing.”
Malone said teachers shouldn’t be left to
conclude, “My kids didn’t do well on the MCAS so I
won’t get a good evaluation.” At the end of the day,
he said, “I just tell people, ‘Let’s just go through the
process and be human about it.’”
Whether a student learns as a result of being
in our classrooms matters, and it should be part of
a comprehensive educator
Student learning is at the
heart of our profession.
But measuring the impact
that any one educator has
on a student’s learning
and growth must be
done thoughtfully and in
partnership with educators.
We know that it can’t
and shouldn’t be reduced to a
single standardized test score
or a simple formula. That is why the Massachusetts
Educator Evaluation Framework requires districts
to develop District-Determined Measures — DDMs
— to provide authentic measures of student learning
Many of our colleagues across the nation are
very interested in our work and hopeful that we
can prove that the overemphasis on standardized
test scores in other states’ evaluation systems is the
wrong way to go.
R ecently, the MTA sent guidance on how to negotiate DDMs with districts to local association presidents and members.
We advise that teachers and administrators
tell something meaningful about how much students
learn during the school year.
First and foremost, they should pick measures
that can be used to improve teaching and learning —
not make up new measures solely for this evaluation
system. That would be a waste of time and a
disservice to students.
Over several years of data collection, the
educator and supervisor should exercise their
professional judgment in reviewing the results,
looking;first;at;patterns — what do the different
measures say about the performance of my students
in a given year? — and then at trends in performance
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— what do the data say about the performance of my
students over several years? Professional judgment
can then be applied to put the results into the proper
After at least two years, depending on the
contract language in the district, the evaluator should
use professional judgment to determine whether
an educator’s impact on student learning was high,
moderate or low. As Secretary Malone said more
plainly, the evaluator needs to be “human” about it.
MTA members should bear in mind that DDMs
need to be focused on improvement, not punishment.
The measurement they yield is used for shaping
an educator’s professional growth or improvement
or “Exemplary” and the student growth impact is
deemed to be low, then the length of the self-directed
Educator Plan may be shortened from two years to
one. (Those who have a summative rating of “Needs
Improvement” already have a plan of one year or
less, regardless of student impact results, and those
rated “Unsatisfactory” may have an even shorter
plan, depending on what has been agreed upon in the
local collective bargaining agreement.)
I t is unfortunate that we have multiple new initiatives — RETELL training; implementation of the Massachusetts 2011 ELA and Math
Curriculum Frameworks, which incorporate the
Common Core State Standards; and the rollout of new
Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College
and Careers tests — occurring at the same time that
districts are required to pilot DDMs. Recognizing the
burden, the state has slowed the implementation of
DDMs. But there is still a lot to do.
members to participate. We need our best educators
to be engaged in the discussions of these important
issues related to teaching and learning. Your local
association president can’t do it alone.
If the call goes out for educators to join
“cadres” to develop useful DDMs, please consider
participating. Classroom educators are the people
best equipped to make decisions about good
measures of student learning and growth.
If your local president needs you to help bargain
over the scheduling of RETELL courses, please join
a much more convenient schedule for you and your
PARCC exam to measure student mastery of the
new Common Core-based frameworks, use it as an
opportunity. Learn what this new assessment is all
about and then provide the MTA and your local with
feedback to help us advocate for improvements in
the implementation of the PARCC system.
I know that many of you feel overwhelmed;
there is an awful lot on your plates. But it’s worth
paying attention to what Audrey Loeb, an Arlington
fourth-grader, said in the cover story of this issue
of MTA Today when she was asked to describe a
multifaceted project on the Lowell mills.
thought it was going to be really hard. I never did a
big project like this before,” Audrey said. “But we
just did it step by step, and it was easy.”
I don’t mean to say that educator evaluation, Common Core, RETELL and all the rest will be easy, but if we do them all step by step — and if
many members share the load — we will get through
this. Massachusetts is number one in the nation in
academic performance. Our colleagues around the
country are looking to us to see that we get this right.
together with one another, our district leadership and
the parents of our students.
Now more than ever,
we need rank-and-file
members to participate.
We need our best
educators to be engaged
in the discussions of
these important issues
related to teaching and
learning. Your local
can’t do it alone.