TEACHER AND ADMINISTRATOR PERFORMANCE EVALUATION

STUDY FOR SCHOOL REFORM

LEGISLATION FOR THE STATE OF WYOMING

 

 

PREPARED FOR THE WYOMING DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

 

by

 

DR. CAROL ANN WATSON

 

 

January 1, 1998

 

Wyoming Department of Education

Judy Catchpole, Superintendent for Public Instruction

Hathaway Building, Second Floor

2300 Capitol Avenue

Cheyenne, WY 82002-0050

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

Statute Direction to the Study

Relevant Current Statutes

Executive Summary

Introduction

Teacher and Administrator Testing

Teacher Testing by State

Administrator Testing by State

Standards and Evaluations for Teachers and Administrators

Nationally

Regionally

In Wyoming

Key Issues for Teacher and Administrator Testing

Recommendations Regarding Teacher and Administrator Testing

Teacher and Administrator Performance Evaluation

Nationally

Regionally

Key Issues for Teacher and Administrator Performance Evaluation

Recommendations Regarding Teacher and Administrator Performance Evaluation

Mentoring

Nationally

In Wyoming

Key Issues for Mentoring

Recommendations Regarding Mentoring

Conclusions and Recommendations

 

ENROLLED ACT NO. 2, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

FIFTY-FOURTH LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WYOMING

1997 SPECIAL SESSION

 

 

B. General Operations

 

 

Section 202. State Superintendent of Public Instruction

 

(k) Teacher/administrator Performance Evaluation. The state superintendent shall review experiences in other states and systems of mentoring used by Wyoming school districts, solicit and consider information from business, industry and parents and, not later than January 1, 1998, report to the select committee on school finance regarding tools to assess the capability of teachers and administrators which may be suitable for implementation in Wyoming.

 

SELECTED STATUTES

DUTIES OF THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION

AND LOCAL BOARDS OF TRUSTEES

 

21-2-304. Duties of the state board of education.

  1. The state board of education shall establish policies for public education in this state consistent with the Wyoming Constitution and statutes. The state board may promulgate rules necessary or desirable for the proper and effective implementation of this title and its responsibilities under this title. Nothing in this section shall give the state board rulemaking authority in any area specifically delegated to the state superintendent.

 

(xv) Promulgate rules and regulations for the development, assessment and approval of school district teacher performance evaluation systems. Rules and regulations adopted under this paragraph shall allow each district flexibility in developing an evaluation system which meets the individual needs of the district;

 

21-3-110. Duties of boards of trustees.

(a) The boards of trustees in each school district shall:

 

(xvii) Require the performance of each initial contract teacher to be evaluated in writing at least twice annually. The teacher shall receive a copy of each evaluation of his performance;

 

(xviii) Establish a teacher performance evaluation system and require the performance of each continuing contract teacher to be evaluated in writing at least once each year. The teacher shall receive a copy of each evaluation of his performance;

 

(xix) Performance evaluations required shall serve as a basis for improvement of instruction, enhancement of curriculum program implementation, measurement of both individual teacher performance and professional growth and development and the performance level of all teachers within the school district, and as documentation for unsatisfactory performance for dismissal and termination proceedings.

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

TEACHER AND ADMINISTRATOR EVALUATION STUDY FOR THE SCHOOL REFORM LEGISLATION FOR THE STATE OF WYOMING

 

 

Public concern about teachers and school leaders has sparked a demand for stricter standards and more rigorous controls regarding teacher quality. Society has become global and the expectations for our children are high because they will be forced to compete in a challenging and complex society. The public wants the best for the children of Wyoming and is concerned that teachers and school leaders are capable of giving our children the best possible education. One approach used in many states is a teacher test to weed out bad teachers. As these options are explored, no quick solutions emerge. As in every state, Wyoming boasts quality teachers as well as teachers who may lack skill. Careful recruitment of teachers and an excellent certification program promises to ensure that high levels of teacher competency are met. Coupled with an effective local teacher and administrator evaluation system, ongoing monitoring of teacher and school leader quality and growth may hold more promise for insuring good teaching than other forms of teacher and administrator assessment.

 

 

IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS REGARDING CERTIFICATION AND EVALUATION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KEY FINDINGS REGARDING EDUCATOR TESTING

 

Forty-two states test teachers in one form or another. Yet the other regional states of Colorado, New Mexico, and Montana that have all spent time and money developing credible state teacher testing programs report that there is no evidence that teacher testing does anything to assure teacher or school leader quality or the improvement of student performance.

 

Wyoming must consider not only the lack of evidence supporting improved educator performance through testing and state level performance evaluations, but also the cost benefit of such an endeavor. Wyoming’s small population base may not allow for a cost-effective educator testing program. If Wyoming were to move forward, the following planning would be needed:

 

KEY FINDINGS REGARDING EDUCATOR PERFORMANCE EVALUATION

 

Performance evaluation systems that developed in individual districts in Wyoming which require teachers to prepare materials, reflect on their practice, demonstrate creativity and flexibility, and document knowledge and skills have potential both to educate teachers and change the work of teaching. If this is valued by administrators and teachers, it could act as a catalyst for changing teaching and schools. Teachers may need fewer classes, joint planning time with other teachers, time to interact with mentors, etc. These changes could be the key to success because they can create intellectually rich environments that are stimulating and supportive in which teachers continue to learn.

 

 

KEY FINDINGS REGARDING EDUCATOR MENTORING

 

Anecdotal and case study evidence suggests that mentoring by master teachers of pre-service student teachers, in-service new teachers, and teachers in need of improvement has shown some positive impact on teacher performance. Some examples are available in a few Wyoming schools. In general, these studies have not linked mentoring to student results. The University of Wyoming School-University Partnership utilizes mentor teachers for supervision of student teaching. However, training of mentor teachers in mentoring practices is inconsistently delivered. National efforts to document the impact of mentoring on teacher performance are underway. Results to date are positive about the usefulness of teaching mentoring in improving teacher performance. A concern reported by researchers is the tendency of master teachers to support and convey traditional ideas about teaching rather than to support school reform efforts. Major barriers reported are the cost in time and money of training and releasing mentor teachers to carry out their roles.

 

 

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR TOOLS FOR ASSESSING TEACHER AND ADMINISTRATOR PERFORMANCE

 

 

 

 

This requires that teacher performance evaluation take into account important school reform issues including:

    1. Teaching student standards.
    2. Determining how students are doing and changing instruction to ensure students meet standards.
    3. Knowing and using research-based and research proven teaching practices.
    4. Setting professional goals to improve teacher practices and student learning.
    5. Pursuing staff development plans based on teacher performance evaluation results and school improvement goals.

For teachers to deliver quality instruction, administrator performance evaluation requires that administrators provide support to teachers’ school reform efforts including:

    1. Monitoring to ensure that teachers are teaching student standards.
    2. Monitoring to ensure that teachers continuously examine how students are doing and change instruction appropriately to ensure students meet standards.
    3. Monitoring to ensure that teachers are using research based and research proven teaching practices.
    4. Assisting teachers to develop professional goals to improve their teaching and student learning.
    5. Providing and planning for staff development based on teacher performance evaluation results and school improvement goals.

 

 

IN SUMMARY

 

 

Report to the Legislature on

Teacher and Administrator Performance Evaluation

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

"Why consider testing teachers or administrators?" This question captures a current dilemma in the evaluation of teacher and administrator skills in an age of school reform. Legislatures, state departments of education, districts and schools are asked to satisfy the demand for accountability. Teacher and administrator testing is one of the ways states have attempted to address questions surrounding accountability of schools for effectiveness in teaching students. Do the schools work? Are students learning? Parents look to report cards when teachers report student growth. The public looks to testing both standardized and, more recently, to other forms of testing that assess standards of what students should know and be able to do.

When students fail to learn to expected levels, those interested in accountability begin to question teachers' knowledge and competencies. What should the teacher know and be able to do? How can schools best evaluate what teachers know and are able to do?

Students are tested because the public is concerned about how well the school or school system is performing. Parents, legislators, community and business leaders want evidence that schools are providing our children with a quality education. The public looks to educational tests of various sorts as objective instruments capable of providing systematic and informed answers about learning that takes place in schools. However, test scores are only one indicator of learning in school. Other factors affect learning. A child's home background, socio-economic status, parental involvement, teacher connections with students and general atmosphere where learning is taking place contribute to successful school outcomes. In the same way, tests of teacher and administrator skills are only one indicator of the ability to help students learn.

As school reform focuses on what children should know and be able to do, concern continues to surround what teachers must know and be able to do in order for students to achieve these goals. Basic skills testing for teachers is only one indicator that the teacher has learned skills necessary for teaching children, but it is a screening device and will eliminate only persons who are deficient in the basic skill areas. Teacher preparation programs have all but eliminated concerns at this basic level through their own entrance requirements and testing programs.

The people of the State of Wyoming, through their legislature, wish to study and address the following questions: Is teacher preparation enough? Is further testing required to determine what teachers should know and be able to do? How can teacher and administrator skills be determined? Since Wyoming is rural with many small schools separated by great distances, it is very different from most of the other 49 states. Should the state develop its own testing for teachers based on Wyoming standards and needs, or should Wyoming merely use tests developed for other states?

In a rural state where filling classrooms with qualified teachers presents special challenges, does it make sense to create yet another barrier to teacher qualifications if it cannot be proven that these requirements will make a difference in teacher quality? Estimates based on the ages of currently employed Wyoming teachers suggest that approximately 30 percent may retire within the next ten years. Such an exodus is likely to leave a significant teacher shortage in its wake. Is it necessary to rush toward a solution? Or would it be wise to involve groups of interested people in the State of Wyoming in deciding how to evaluate teachers’ and administrators’ skills?

Ownership is important. When the people of the State feel their opinions and thoughts are valued, they feel more inclined to be a part of the educational community and feel instrumental in helping to develop a system they too are proud of. The function of testing has a long historical tradition. The earliest recorded examples are Chinese Civil Services Qualifying Tests in 2nd Century, B.C. Placement and certification decisions are still commonly based on tests. In 1992 when U.S. Congress published their book, Testing in American Schools, 35 states used the National Teachers’ Exam for teacher licensure.

The public education system needs substantive reform to meet the demands of the next century. However, changes need to be undertaken based upon the available information about whether or not the proposed changes are likely to make a difference. Planning needs to involve parents, community leaders, educators, and administrators because involvement means ownership and ownership will lead to strong public concern for education for all and pride in what the people of Wyoming have accomplished together. A primary purpose of testing would be to determine if teachers have the knowledge and skills they need to carry out the reforms that will ensure student success in the future. However, there is no evidence that testing for knowledge and skills improves the quality of classroom teachers.

 

Still, state agencies have an obligation to protect the interests and welfare of the citizens in their jurisdictions. In the case of education, this includes the responsibility to ensure that all teachers in the classroom and school administrators have the pre-requisite knowledge and skills to perform adequately. The public depends on the competence and commitment of teachers to create quality education for our children. Student performance depends on teacher competence. "Studies show that teacher expertise matters. A study by Ronald F. Ferguson, a Harvard University researcher, estimates that each additional dollar spent on more highly qualified teachers nets greater gains in student performance than any other use of school resources." (Education Week, Jan. 22, 1997)

 

TEACHER AND ADMINISTRATOR TESTING

 

WHICH STATES REQUIRE TEACHER AND ADMINISTRATOR TESTING AND WHAT SPECIFICALLY DO THEY TEST?

 

Teacher certification testing programs usually have two goals: 1) to regulate the certification of teachers to assure public safety, and 2) to improve public education by providing better trained teachers. Each certification-testing program needs to be implemented in a uniform and fair manner while attempting to meet the need for quality teachers. Candidates in teacher education should be provided adequate educational opportunities and training to acquire the skills necessary to pass the exam.

Downs and Silvester (1988) argue that "Teacher Certification Testing Programs can more effectively advance the quality of education and the professional preparation of teachers by:

    1. Providing both administrative and subject matter information about the program.
    2. Identifying for candidates their strengths and weaknesses in order to help them focus their studies.
    3. Providing teacher education institutions with practical information about their students and their progress through diagnostic and prescriptive score reporting.

These authors suggest that teacher certification testing programs should involve much more than the tests themselves. The program should contain important support systems. If the support system is complete and inclusive, individuals will be more effectively prepared to enter the teaching force thereby improving the quality of education." However, no documentation is offered to support these assumptions.

 

Teacher Examinations by State

Presently 42 states have some required examinations for teachers for certification. The nine states that require no examinations are Alabama, Alaska, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Ohio, Utah, Vermont and Wyoming. The states that have a testing program cover areas such as basic skills, subject matter, pedagogical skills, general knowledge and performance assessment.

Administrative/Supervision Examinations by State

 

Of the 50 states, 14 states test all administrators in basic skills, 13 states test all administrators in subject matter, 11 states test all administrators in Pedagogical skills, 4 states test administrators in general knowledge and no states test administrators in performance assessment. (Statistics taken from NASDTEC Manual, 1996 - 1997)

There is a great deal of activity across the country in the testing of teachers and school administrators. In none of these states was evidence available to demonstrate improvement in the quality of classroom teachers and administrators resulting from this testing.

 

 

WHAT IS BEING DONE IN THE EDUCATIONAL PROFESSION TO RESPOND TO THE PUBLIC CONCERN THAT TEACHERS AND ADMINISTRATORS NEED STRICTER STANDARDS AND EVALUATIONS?

 

Nationally

 

 

TEACHERS:

A National Board for Professional Teaching Standards was established in 1987 to develop standards for the advanced certification of highly skilled veteran teachers, much as professional certifying agencies do in assessing physicians, architects, accountants and others. In the same year, the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC) was established to enhance collaboration among states in rethinking teacher assessment for initial licensing as well as for preparation and induction into the profession. The National Board and INTASC are united in their view that the complex art of teaching requires performance-based standards and assessment that are capable of capturing teachers' reasoned judgements and evaluating what they can actually do in authentic teaching situations.

In 1992, the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC), a program of the Council of Chief State School Officers, published their first draft of model standards for licensing new teachers. Drafted by representatives of the teaching profession along with persons from 17 state education agencies, these standards represent a common core of teaching knowledge and skills that will help all students acquire 21st century knowledge and skills. The standards were developed to be compatible with the advanced certification standards of the new National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. This effort takes another step toward a coherent approach to educating and licensing teachers based upon shared views among the states and within the profession of what constitutes professional teaching. This document addresses the knowledge, dispositions and performances deemed essential for all teachers, regardless of their specialty area. (CCSSO Consortium, 1992)

The INTASC task force, chaired by Linda Darling-Hammond, further proposed performance-based standards. These standards describe what teachers should know and be able to do rather than listing courses that teachers should take in order to be awarded a license. This approach places more emphasis on the abilities teachers develop than the hours they spend taking courses.

Schools are now expected to ensure that all students learn and perform at high levels. The INTASC task force standards cannot be assessed by a paper and pencil test. The standard could only be assessed through direct observation of teachers, a highly expensive and time- consuming undertaking. In this study, no information is yet available to indicate that the assessment of these standards has produced better teachers.

 

 

ADMINISTRATORS:

The Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC), a program of the Council of Chief State School Officers, has developed model standards for school leaders. These standards were developed based on research on productive educational leadership and by professional personnel from 24 state education agencies and representatives from various professional organizations. The standards present a common core of knowledge, dispositions and performances that will help link leadership to productive schools and enhance education outcomes. The standards were designed to be compatible with the new National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) curriculum guidelines for school administrators as well as with the major national reports on reinvesting leadership for tomorrow's schools. As such they represent another part of a concerted effort to enhance the skills of school leaders and to couple leadership with effective educational processes and valued outcomes. These standards were developed to raise the bar for the practice of school leadership. The ISLLC Consortium honors the task of formal leadership in schools and school districts as being complex and multi-faceted. They also acknowledge that effective leaders often expose different problems or beliefs and act differently from the norm in the profession.

"Effective school leaders are strong educators, anchoring their work on central issues of learning and teaching and school improvement. They are moral agents and social advocates for the children and the communities they serve. Finally, they make a strong connection with other people, valuing and caring for others as individuals and as members of the educational community." (CCSSO, 1996)

The future of education is being shaped by our changing society. Among today’s challenges are an increased reliance on technology and a student population that is becoming more diverse racially, linguistically and culturally. It is also apparent that there is a decline in physical, mental and moral well-being, and that poverty has exacerbated this situation. These factors will require new types of leadership in our schools. However as with teacher assessment, no evidence was found that testing of potential administrators produces higher quality practitioners.

 

Regionally

 

Interviews with other states in the Rocky Mountain Region:

 

Colorado....Gene Campbell, Director of Teacher Certification for Colorado, stated that Colorado implemented one of the most comprehensive teacher testing programs in the country in 1991. He stated that teacher testing in Colorado is a support system for teaching standards. He personally has been involved in the entire process. He says teacher testing is an expensive and time-consuming process for which there is no research, as yet, to show that testing teachers results in better quality teaching. He stated, "Testing looks at content knowledge, only a snapshot of one particular element regarding teaching." Mr. Campbell recommended that since Wyoming has so few people and a shortage of dollars they could think of putting a basic skills test in as an admittance requirement for teacher certification but a custom designed basic skills test would probably not be cost-effective. He further stated that teacher testing in Colorado has not reduced the applicant pool.

 

Montana....Don Froshour, Director of Teacher Certification for Montana, stated Montana uses basic skills testing and completion of approved programs as a requirement for teachers. He stated they are in the process of making change which may take until 1999. They are in a transition from using the National Teachers’ Examination (NTE) tests to another system that has not been clearly defined. They were considering using existing tests from Educational Testing Service, but chose instead to develop an assessment program that uses multiple criteria. The state has begun implementing a system of portfolio evaluation for administrators. Montana has experienced some of the same struggles that Wyoming will face due to a small population base.

 

New Mexico...Patricia Soukup, representing New Mexico's teacher certification program, stated that New Mexico has had teacher testing since 1983 and New Mexico was using the core battery of NTE. In 1994 a teacher assessment task force was developed to look at teacher testing. The Professional Standards Commission, an advisory body to the State Department of Education, adopted a new licensure test that will be implemented in 1999 because the core battery is being phased out by NTE. National Evaluation Systems (NES) has agreed to design a 3-part licensure exam. This new exam was customized to the State Board of Education’s teacher competencies. The New Mexico State Board of Education mandates testing in (1) reading and writing (communication skills), (2) general knowledge, and (3) teacher pedagogy.

 

In Wyoming

 

THE STATE OF WYOMING DOES NOT PRESENTLY MANDATE TESTING FOR CERTIFICATION AND RECERTIFICATION OF TEACHERS OR ADMINISTRATORS.

 

Wyoming currently employs two avenues for prospective educators seeking certificates through the Professional Teaching Standards Board. The first requires the completion of an approved program of instruction. The second is by portfolio assessment. In both instances the applicant must meet the requirements of the Wyoming Professional Standards Board.

In addition, Wyoming has in place by Statute and Rule a Teacher Performance Evaluation System which requires each district in the state to develop and submit to the Wyoming Department of Education for review and approval a plan for teacher evaluation. These processes, along with Wyoming’s Professional Teaching Standards and a sound school Accreditation system, provide a solid foundation for Wyoming’s public education. A teacher and administrator testing program may do little more than add a bureaucratic layer to what should be an effective blend of local control and state support.

Linda Stowers, Director of the Professional Standards Board of Wyoming, detailed the state’s certification program as one that is based on knowledge, skills and competency. She further discussed the states portfolio system that is reviewed by five members or peers. If a deficiency is found, a teacher can elect to get an internship permit for one year to develop more competencies and work with a mentor. Then they can re-submit the previous deficiency and have five years to finish. Ms. Stowers felt strongly that the State of Wyoming certification standards for teachers are high and address technology, gifted as well as all other special education categories, thinking skills and school improvement.

The University of Wyoming at Laramie has developed what they believe is a successful teacher education program that uses what Dr. Charles Ksir, Dean of Education, refers to as authentic assessment. Dr. Ksir reported that the School of Education has designed a teacher education program that calls for portfolio assessment starting in the early stages of teacher education. The Dean also states that to enter teacher education at the University of Wyoming, the student must qualify based on scores on the ACT and a grade point average of 2.5 in University classes.

He expressed concern that a paper and pencil test for certification into the field of teaching is not as valuable an assessment as continuous portfolios of course work. In addition, observing and teaching, another far more valuable assessment in his view, in the schools is required by the University of Wyoming. The first observation and involvement by the potential teacher is in the sophomore year and continues throughout the program. By the time potential teachers enter student teaching, they have had several teaching opportunities in the schools and are confident, capable, strong, articulate teachers ready to take over and teach.

The National Education Association (NEA) Teacher Initiative Study that the University of Wyoming participates in is finding that their teachers are doing well in the field. In the second year of a five year study, the programs are evaluated by principals, mentor teachers and focus groups by interviews and surveys.

The University of Wyoming has "deficiency" agreements with teachers that are evaluated by the Professional Teachers Standards Board. These teachers are certified with a five year time line in which they must take classes necessary to remediate deficiencies. Dr. Ksir expressed concerns that the State of Wyoming is suffering financially. He states that ten years ago Wyoming was in the top 10 in paying teachers and now they are in the bottom 25 in the pay for teachers. Resource dollars are at an all-time low, necessitating the development of cost effective programs. Dr. Ksir feels that the University of Wyoming's teacher training program does an excellent job of teacher preparation. He did state that he is unaware of how teachers are performing years down the road and he is not aware of studies on that at this time.

Don Bryngelson, President of the Wyoming Association of School Administrators, believes the new state certification standards for teachers in Wyoming accomplish the necessary task of evaluating teachers for teacher competency. He stated the Association of School Administrators is not endorsing teacher testing at this time as a method for evaluating for quality teaching. He further stated, "Our accreditation is based on school improvement. We want good teachers but are concerned about teacher shortages." He feels that the evaluations for principals and superintendents are rigorous and involve hiring two outside consultants by the Wyoming State School Boards Association. Dr. Bryngelson states, "The University of Wyoming does an excellent job preparing people, both the principal and the teacher."

Both the past president and the present president of the Wyoming Parent Teachers Association, Linda Edington, and Helen Cerney-Gerstein expressed concern about teacher evaluation, not specifically teacher testing. Both of these persons reinforced the concern that teachers must involve parents more in the educational process and feel more classes should be offered at the University which address specifically working with parents in this process.

The former President of Wyoming PTA, Linda Edington, stated that the evaluation plan in place in Jackson Hole, Wyoming is a five phase plan which is very competitive and strong. However, there are still a number of teachers who appear to be burned out and unenthusiastic about their role in educating Wyoming's children. She expressed concern that teacher testing and teacher evaluation does not address lack of creativity or excitement regarding teaching that she feels contributes highly to the child's love of learning.

Dick Scarlett, President of three Wyoming banks in Jackson, Sheridan and Cody stated that the trouble with teacher or administrator testing is that teachers may pass the test but still be unable to perform in the classroom with students. He noted that in banking, job performance is measured in fairly subjective ways, but a back-up system is also in place. Evaluations occur once per year by supervisors. A committee, as a back-up system to ensure fairness and objectivity, reviews these evaluations. Mr. Scarlett thought a similar system might work for teachers.

Jay Lyon, consultant for FMC and business representative on the Wyoming State Board of Education, stated that performance standards for administrators should be the basis for evaluating their performance. This system should be consistent across Wyoming. He stated a concern for making sure that whatever is done, the priority should be whether it makes a difference in student learning. In business, Mr. Lyon noted, all of the steps along the way in producing a product are evaluated to be sure that the product will be right at the end. For this reason, he feels that educator evaluations should be frequent and ongoing. However, he also stated that the vast majority of teachers in Wyoming are absolutely exceptional.

Rod Taylor from the Chamber of Commerce and owner of eight Pizza Hut Restaurants stated that in business when you do well you are paid more. In business, he noted that personnel are evaluated on performance.

Bill Tanner, President of Exxon in Wyoming, stated that a consistent method of evaluating personnel is used throughout the world in their company. Professional staff is evaluated on a forced ranking system. Business systems work on a principles of high pay, high demand, and high expectations. Pay is correlated to job responsibility. As one increases, the other increases. He noted that goals and expectations are established, attainment of goals is measured annually, and personnel are ranked based on goal attainment using a numerical system.

 

KEY ISSUES TO BE CONSIDERED IN TEACHER AND ADMINISTRATOR TESTING

 

Nassif has written extensively on the topic of teacher and administrator testing. She points out key considerations that present a challenge to any state considering educator testing.

    1. Budgetary constraints must be realistically evaluated because assessment strategies vary in cost. Start-up costs are born by states and operating costs by the examinees.
    2. Time considerations are critical. Mandated requirements include implementation dates. Development of a Certification Testing Program tailored to states curriculum requirements involves more time than adopting an existing test.
    3. Which assessment strategy will best protect the public?
    4. Registering candidates for testing assessment and carrying out the assessment are logistically demanding. How will they be carried out?
    5. Examination results should be reported to examinee's college and university, State Department of Education and the public who gain an understanding and agreement of education goals. (Nassif, 1992)

Developmental differences for teachers and prospective teachers are real and they may have important implications for the policies adopted for the training and assessing of teachers. Extensive experiences are fundamental to development but the system ought to nurture the professional growth of those willing to undertake the journey by providing the training and evaluation that is appropriate to their level of development. (Berliner, 1990)

There are many methods available for assessing the competency and skills of entry level teachers. Given the significance of the teaching profession and its importance to society, we should continue to explore options in order to develop the most effective assessment programs. (Elliot & Mattar, 1990)

 

 

RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING WHETHER OR NOT TO SUPPORT TEACHER TESTING AS A CONDITION FOR EMPLOYMENT OR CONTINUED EMPLOYMENT IN WYOMING'S PUBLIC SCHOOLS:

 

No evidence was found in the literature or interviews with other Rocky Mountain States that demonstrated teacher and administrator testing improved performance of the educator or students.

Wyoming has strong school accreditation components. The independent Professional Teaching Standards Board continues to work diligently on teacher standards and the State Department of Education is intensely involved in developing high standards for children in all public schools which will make the children of Wyoming active learners who will meet or surpass educational expectations. The priority now is to assure the State of Wyoming that Wyoming's children are adequately prepared for the 21st century.

To begin the burden of testing teachers, when other states can produce no evidence to support the notion that teacher testing produces quality teachers in the schools, seems a poor use of resources both in dollars and time spent. A testing program in a state with a small population may not prove to be cost effective.

Move slowly and cautiously toward any testing of teachers and administrators. Wyoming may wish to create a task force made up of parents, community and business leaders, educators and school leaders and others to discuss and explore this controversial issue.

 

TEACHER AND ADMINISTRATOR PERFORMANCE EVALUATION

 

There are many methods available for assessing the competency and skills of teachers. States continue to explore options for developing the most effective means of assessing these competencies and skills. Teachers’ cognitive knowledge and skills, general education and content knowledge may be determined through paper and pencil examinations. However, the most important skills a teacher must possess can only be assessed through classroom performance. If these skills are lacking, testing for competence in content will matter very little. As the National Board and INTASC have emphasized, the assessment of the complex art of teaching requires an approach that can capture teachers' reasoned judgments and that evaluate what they can actually do in authentic teaching situations. To assess these skills, performance evaluation is required. However, at this time, no state is licensing all teachers based on performance assessments.

 

Nationally

 

Research (Soled, 1995) in the area of teacher and administrator performance evaluation clearly demonstrates that new assessments are motivated by two concerns: 1) the image of teaching that underlies current teacher evaluation systems, and 2) concerns for the type of knowledge and skills measured by predominant assessment methods. Because the conceptions of teaching and learning are broadening and changing, teacher and administrator evaluation requires some rethinking. Traditional forms of evaluation may not be tapping into important types of knowledge, skills and understandings. The research literature advocates teacher evaluations that are performance based to support the need to evaluate how successful a teacher is in working with parents, administrators, colleagues, what teachers know and understand about their students’ individual needs, how a teacher evaluates her students’ knowledge, etc. Unfortunately, good teachers are often so consumed with the work of teaching that teachers have neither the time nor the resources necessary to document that which they know and can do.

The current literature in teacher evaluation suggests that a critical component of any development in this area should focus on the documentation of teacher knowledge and skills as well as its evaluation. Since good teaching comes in many guises, there will be no easy answers or quick solutions. Therefore, the way teachers are evaluated must accommodate the multiple possibilities of good teaching practice.

Current educational reform is calling for new images of teaching that break with past traditions and challenge assumptions about teaching and learning. Innovations in teacher evaluation include portfolio exercises using items such as videotaped observation and documentation. These activities allow the teachers to demonstrate their ability to teach in the actual contexts in which they work. What is critical, however, is that the teachers be continuously challenged professionally so that they can perform well in situations other than the one in which they might be engaged presently.

A successful performance-based evaluation system would address this professional growth and intellectual stimulation in their goals. Therefore, all performance evaluations need to address assessments outside the school as well. Other formats must be utilized to assess the full range of knowledge teachers need. It is imperative, therefore that a certification system tap the range of knowledge and skills teachers should have, not just the knowledge and skills that are tapped within one context during the limited number of observations.

 

Regionally

Several states have spent considerable time and effort in developing performance evaluation models for teachers and administrators that are actual observable performance. One such state, Colorado, developed performance assessments that included development of videotape presentations by teachers. According to Gene Campbell, these held promise. Campbell reported that the video gave the teachers opportunities to self-evaluate and to improve their methods of teaching and to see for themselves visually the effectiveness of their interactions with the students. Campbell also stated that by taking two videos of the two different teachers and critiquing them, one could identify the master teacher versus the novice as well as identify the teacher’s ability to interact spontaneously to a child’s needs.

Campbell also explained that the portfolio system they spent years developing was very successful in creating a strong attitude among educators that professional growth should be documented and created an atmosphere of greater professional responsibility among the educators. However, last July 1997, Colorado phased out the portfolio system and the only remaining requirement for state certification is program completion and teacher testing. However, the teacher-testing program is one of the most comprehensive programs in the country. Colorado’s response for developing performance assessments at the state level was that it was costly in time and dollars. After years of intensive development in this area, Colorado’s performance evaluation was discontinued by legislative action prior to full implementation. If it is to be implemented, it will need to be done at the district level through the district’s teacher evaluation systems.

Montana, a rural state like Wyoming, is considering what resources they have available to develop teacher and administrator performance evaluation models at the state level. As mentioned earlier, this effort requires time and money to develop an effective model and may prove to be costly, if, like Colorado, after the extensive development of such a system the state should choose to abandon it.

 

KEY ISSUES FOR TEACHER AND ADMINISTRATOR PERFORMANCE EVALUATION

 

Researchers (Soled, 1995) on performance evaluations expressed concern that the work of teaching suffers many shortcomings: teachers are too isolated and have limited opportunities to reflect on their experience, to develop new practices and experience with alternate pedagogy or teaching methods. Teachers lack resources to document this practice and share what they know. They have limited input into their own professional development and that of peers. Therefore, performance evaluation systems that could be developed in individual districts in Wyoming which require teachers to prepare materials, reflect on their practice, demonstrate creativity and flexibility, and document the knowledge and skills, have potential both to educate teachers and change the work of teaching. If this is valued by administrators and teachers, it could act as a catalyst for changing teaching and schools. Teachers may need fewer classes, joint planning time with other teachers, time to interact with mentors, etc. These changes could be the key to success because they can create intellectually rich environments that are stimulating and supportive in which teachers continue to learn.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING WHETHER OR NOT TO SUPPORT STATE LEVEL TEACHER AND ADMINISTRATOR PERFORMANCE EVALUATION AS A CONDITION FOR EMPLOYMENT OR CONTINUED EMPLOYMENT IN WYOMING'S PUBLIC SCHOOLS:

 

Since educator performance evaluation systems at the state level have been experiments in other states and have proven costly in time and money, it is important that Wyoming learn from the mistakes and struggles of other states. While continuing to monitor the results of experiments in other states with state level performance evaluation, the state can provide support to a stronger district level performance evaluation system where goals are clearly defined and districts educate leaders to be aware of their responsibilities and resources in this endeavor. According to research (Darling-Hammond, 1997; Nassif, 1992; Pecheone, 1991) on district level performance evaluation, effective practices should include:

In the district Teacher and Administrator Performance Evaluation systems approved by the Wyoming State Board of Education based on previous statute, some but not all of these requirements are met by most districts. Further, the Wyoming State Board of Education School Accreditation Rules and Regulations require and support systematic planning of staff development to improve individual teacher performance, to support the teaching of student standards and to improve student learning. Consistent with these priorities, research suggests that performance evaluations need to account for the pursuit of school reform efforts in the classroom. The future will be determined by what students know and are able to do. This requires that teacher performance evaluation take into account important school reform issues including:

For teachers to deliver quality instruction, administrator performance evaluation requires that administrators provide support to teachers’ school reform efforts including:

 

An approach that refines the currently existing district level teacher and administrator performance evaluation systems has a dual advantage. First, as it enhances an existing system, this approach does not involve the high cost in time and money required in developing testing and state level performance evaluation systems that have yet to demonstrate improvement in teacher quality or a direct link to improved student learning. Second, by keeping the evaluation process close to those doing the evaluating and those being evaluated, professional development can be linked directly to improving teacher and administrator performance. Professional development, as the National Staff Development Council’s standards suggest and their research indicates, should be continuous and ongoing with follow-up and administrative support, if it is to be effective in changing educators’ behavior. That is, training sessions must be followed by joint sharing and planning for carrying out the new practice in the classroom, and supported by opportunities to share ideas and concerns with other teachers as problems arise.

 

TEACHER MENTORING

 

Teacher and Administrator testing and performance evaluation have been implemented in an attempt to ensure that classrooms are filled with quality teachers. However, recent attempts to improve teaching quality have also included teacher mentoring. This method involves the assignment of a master teacher to assist student teachers, beginning teachers and deficient teachers to improve their skills. This approach is based on the idea that teachers learn best from other expert teachers, an idea that has its roots in the business practice of apprenticeship and journeyman training.

Nationally

 

The National Center for Research on Teacher Learning (NCRTL) has been involved for five years in studying teacher mentoring. Their goal is to determine whether mentoring is effective in improving teacher quality and to define the conditions necessary for mentoring to be effective. NCRTL has defined the following issues for successful mentoring programs.

 

The senior researcher for the NCRTL, Sharon Feiman-Nemser (1996), in a critical review of teacher mentoring, noted that over 30 states have mandated some form of mentored support for beginning teachers. She noted that there have been few direct studies of the impact of mentoring on the quality of teaching and retention of teachers. She also sounded a cautionary note on the following concerns:

 

As with teacher testing and state level performance evaluation, there are many barriers to carrying out mentoring programs. Some of these are the same in all three cases. McCann and Radford (1993) identify three of these barriers.

 

 

At a national level, many researchers believe mentoring has the best chance of improving teacher and administrator quality. Some evidence is available to demonstrate that mentoring does improve quality. These studies have been conducted chiefly around peer coaching and collaboration, and many are anecdotal or case studies. The data does not provide clear evidence to demonstrate exactly how the teacher and administrator quality are improved or the impact on student learning.

 

In Wyoming

 

Mentoring efforts in districts have been carried out primarily through the efforts of the University of Wyoming’s School-University Partnership, the pre-service preparation program, and the leadership training program for school administrators. Districts have provided mentor teachers to pre-service teachers as described above by Dr. Ksir. Dr. Wayne Porter, Executive Director of the School-University Partnership, described how this program currently operates. Mentor teachers meet with university faculty responsible for placement and supervision of student teachers for one full day prior to the placement of student teachers. In these meetings, these partners engage in critical conversations about the task ahead of mentoring student teachers during their student teaching experience. Mentor teachers and university faculty discussed the university's expectations for student teachers and for mentor teachers, the standards student teachers must achieve in the methods courses, and the standards students must meet in their student teaching experience. Having established relationships, these partners continue their communications through telephone interactions and other informal means.

Dr. Tim Rush, who directs the supervision of student teachers for the University, stated that the University currently provides a handbook for supervising teachers and university supervisors on mentoring practices. Rush also noted that student teachers spend at least a month in the classroom in which they will student teach prior to their formal student teaching semester. This experience enables the students to develop a mentoring relationship with their supervising teachers prior to student teaching. The University is in the process of formalizing training through a course to be required of university supervisors and possibly mentor teachers. Dr. Ed Paradis and Dr. Audrey Kleinsasser at the University of Wyoming are currently involved in the second year of a five-year National Education Associations study of mentoring to which Dr. Ksir referred.

In past years, University faculty have provided courses on mentor teaching as a part of a six-course sequence offered by compressed video. Dr. Porter reported that this sequence is no longer available due to the discontinuation of that program which was funded by a federal grant. Presently, Dr. Donna Whitson teaches a course on mentoring that several districts make available to their teachers who are or intend to mentor student teachers. Some districts, including Campbell County School District Number One, have offered mentoring courses continuously as a part of their staff development offerings. This district and others including Sweetwater County School District Numbers One and Two, will not allow teachers to supervise student teachers until they have completed a sequence of formal training courses for mentor teachers.

Most districts report that mentoring of in-service teachers is minimal, unstructured, or absent. The major reason given by districts is the cost in time and money of providing release time for mentor teachers to provide the needed assistance. A few districts report providing assistance to new teachers in their first to third year. In Albany County School District Number One, master teachers are paid a stipend to mentor new teachers for the first year they teach. This provision may be extended through the third year, if needed. Mentors introduce new teachers to school procedures, preparation for parent-teacher conferences, record use, and give suggestions during weekly meetings. Mentors observe the new teachers at least twice during each year and provide non-evaluative feedback.

Cody High School uses a similar system to provide assistance to teachers in need of improvement as per their performance evaluations. The role of clinical advisor is carefully maintained for the mentor while the principal retains the role of performance evaluator. The mentor is selected by the teacher and the principal. Laramie County School District Number One has used mentors for in-service teachers primarily to assist teachers in implementing what they have learned in staff development in their classrooms. Sweetwater School District Number One has developed a plan for mentoring new teachers for the first three years of their career to be implemented in the fall of 1998. Efforts are also underway to structure follow-up mentoring by the University of recent graduates who begin their formal career in Natrona County School District Number One. Currently, teachers can get a mentor upon request unrelated to their performance evaluation status.

Campbell County School District Number One requires teachers who are new to the district, regardless of previous experience, to be mentored. Each new teacher is assigned a mentor by the principal of the school. New teachers and their mentors arrive five days before other teachers at the beginning of the school year in order to complete training. The goal of the training is to ensure support for the new hire as well as helping them to understand district and school policies. Mentors are trained on creating a growth and self-realization situation for new hires rather than to give advice specifically. Although mentoring is voluntary, mentors receive district hours that can be used for lane changes on the district pay schedule. In addition, for the three to five days they attend before school starts, they receive a small stipend.

Dr. Porter reported that the School-University is considering two future activities to foster mentor-teaching efforts. First, the partnership would like to provide more formalized, ongoing training and support to mentor teachers that are structured on the staff development standards of the National Staff Development Council. Second, the partnership would like to extend the use of mentoring beyond the pre-service student teaching experience to the in-service beginning teacher experience. This extension would help new teachers make a smooth and hopefully more successful transition into teaching. However, Porter expressed concern about the cost of undertaking these new efforts.

In the University of Wyoming’s leadership training program, cohort groups are developed, trained and mentored. Master administrators who may have been a part of a previous cohort group or have been selected for their demonstrated skills mentor these trainees in their internship experiences. In past years, mentors met as a group to discuss the aspects of their program and life experiences in different life roles. Currently, a handbook is used for mentor reference and mentors do not formally meet.

 

KEY ISSUES IN MENTORING:

 

While mentoring offers promise as a means of fostering the successful transition of novice teachers into fully functioning professionals in the classroom, evidence of the effectiveness of such programs is limited. New evidence is being sought. These systems have been primarily used in Wyoming as a means of supporting student teachers in their initial teaching experiences. Formal training for mentor teachers has been limited primarily to individual university classes and staff development provided by individual school districts.

Many districts have attempted to implement mentor teaching support to in-service teachers either to support their overall improvement or to support staff development efforts. These efforts have often failed or been abandoned due to the cost in time and money of releasing mentor teachers to work with other teachers. In conditions of limited resources, districts have had to re-channel resources to other priorities. However, two examples of programs were found in Albany County School District Number One for mentoring new teachers and in Cody High School for mentoring teachers in need of improvement.

 

To be a successful mentor, teachers and administrators require:

 

RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING THE USE OF MENTORING:

 

Mentoring of teachers for pre-service training, initial induction of new teachers and assistance to teachers in need of improvement show promising potential for improving the performance of teachers. Many barriers exist to widespread systematic use of mentoring. Costs in time and money for training and release remain significant barriers. Linking mentoring to performance evaluation to assist teachers in need of improvement is a worthwhile idea. However, further study is needed to determine the structure, design and support of an effective program as a part of performance evaluation systems. The Wyoming State Board of Education should undertake further consideration of this issue with an eye to utilizing the findings of both the upcoming NCRTL and the NEA study results in defining criteria for a program of this kind. A closer examination of the district examples mentioned above might also be useful in designing criteria. The Board should then make recommendations to the legislature regarding any statutory or regulatory changes and fiscal support that might be needed by districts to carry out these requirements.

 

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS:

 

 

This requires that teacher performance evaluation take into account important school reform issues including:

    1. Teaching student standards.
    2. Determining how students are doing and changing instruction to ensure students meet standards.
    3. Knowing and using research-based and research proven teaching practices.
    4. Setting professional goals to improve teacher practices and student learning.
    5. Pursuing staff development plans based on teacher performance evaluation results and school improvement goals.

For teachers to deliver quality instruction, administrator performance evaluation requires that administrators provide support to teachers’ school reform efforts including:

    1. Monitoring to ensure that teachers are teaching student standards.
    2. Monitoring to ensure that teachers continuously examine how students are doing and change instruction appropriately to ensure students meet standards.
    3. Monitoring to ensure that teachers are using research based and research proven teaching practices.
    4. Assisting teachers to develop professional goals to improve their teaching and student learning.
    5. Providing and planning for staff development based on teacher performance evaluation results and school improvement goals.

 

 

 

TEACHER AND ADMINISTRATOR EVALUATION STUDY FOR THE REFORM LEGISLATION FOR THE STATE OF WYOMING

 

PERSONS INTERVIEWED

 

Bryngelson, Don Superintendent of Platte County School District Number One and President of the Wyoming Association for School Administrators

 

Campbell, Gene Assistant Commissioner and Director of Teacher Certification, State Department of Education, Denver, Colorado

 

Cerney-Gerstein, Helen. Past President, Wyoming Parent Teacher Association

 

Edington, Linda President, Wyoming Parent Teacher Association

 

Freshour, Don Director of Teacher Certification, State Department of Education Helena, Montana

 

Ksir, Charles Dean, School of Education, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming

 

Lyon, Jay Business representative member of the Wyoming State Board of Education and consultant for FMC, Rock Springs, Wyoming

 

Scarlett, Dick President of Jackson State Bank, Shoshoni First Bank in Cody, and Sheridan State Bank in Sheridan

 

Soukup, Patricia Assistant to Director of Teacher Certification and Educational Consultant for Professional Standards Commission, an advisory to State Department of Education, Sante Fe, New Mexico

 

Sheinker, Jan Division Administrator for Program Improvement and Learning, State Department of Education, Cheyenne, Wyoming

 

Stowers, Linda Director of Professional Teaching Standards Board, Cheyenne, Wyoming

 

Tanner, Bill Director of Public Affairs for Exxon Corporation, Cheyenne, Wyoming

 

Taylor, Rod Past President of the Casper Chamber of Commerce and owner of 8 Pizza Hut Restaurants, Casper, Wyoming

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

 

Andrew, Theodore D.Ed., (1996), NASDTEC Manual 1996-1997 On Certification and Preparation on Educational Research in U.S. & Canada.

 

Berliner, David C., (1992), "Seven Things on My Mind about Teacher Evaluation" The

Assessment of Teaching Selected Topics, National Evaluation

Systems, Amherst, Massachusetts.

 

Chernoff, Michael L., Nassif, Paula M., Gorth, William P., (1987) The Validity Issue, - What Should Teacher Certification Tests Measure? Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdale, New Jersey.

 

Colorado Department of Education (1994), Standards For Colorado Educators, Educator Licensing, Colorado Department of Education, Denver, Colorado.

 

Council of Chief State School Officers (1996), Standards for School Leaders, Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium, State Education Assessment Center, Council of Chief State School Officers, Washington, D.C.

 

Education Week, January 22, 1997, Quality Counts, A Report Card on the Condition of Public Education in 50 States.

 

Elliot, Scott M. & Mattar, John D. (1990), "Beyond Traditional Assessment Methods: Alternative Approaches for Assessing Entry-Level Teachers", The Assessment of Teaching Selected Topics, National Evaluation Systems, Amherst, Massachusetts.

 

Gorth, William P. and Chernoff, Michael L., (1986), Testing for Teacher Certification, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdale, New Jersey.

 

Darling-Hammond, Linda, (1997), The Right to Learn, Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco.

 

Feiman-Nemser, Sharon, (1996), Teacher Mentoring: A Critical Review, ERIC Clearing House on Teaching and Teacher Education.

 

Finn, Chester E. Jr. (1995), Perspectives in Teacher Certification Testing, National Evaluation Systems, Amherst, Massachusetts.

 

Harris, Larry B. Terrell, S. Max, Russell, Phillip W., (February 1997), Using Performance Based Assessment to Improve Teacher Education, University of Arkansas at Monticello, (a paper presented at the 77th Annual Conference of the Association of Teacher Educators, Washington, D.C.).

 

 

 

Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium, (1992)), Model Standards for Beginning Teacher Licensing and Development: A Resource for State Dialogue, Council of Chief State School Officers, Washington, D.C.

 

McCann and Radford, (1993), Mentoring for Teachers: The Collaborative Approach, [On-line], URL not available.

 

National Center for Research on Teacher Learning, (1991), Findings From the Teacher Education and Learning to Teach Study: Final Report, The National Center for Research on Teacher Education, East Lansing, Michigan.

 

National Center for Research on Teacher Learning, (1997), Learning From Mentors, A Study Update, College of Education, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan.

 

Nassif, Paula M., (1992), "Aligning Assessment and Instruction" Current Topics in Teacher Certification Testing, National Evaluation Systems, Amherst, Massachusetts.

 

National Evaluation Systems, Inc., (1991), Teacher Certification Testing, Recent Perspectives, National Evaluation System, Amherst, Massachusetts.

 

National Evaluation Systems, Inc., (1995), Place-Study Guide: Volume 4, Program for Licensing Assessments for Co-Educators, National Evaluation Systems, Amherst, Massachusetts.

 

National Evaluation Systems, Inc (1989) Program Issues in Teacher Certification Testing,

National Evaluation Systems, Amherst, Massachusetts.

 

Pecheone, Raymond, (1991), Teacher Certification Testing, Recent Perspectives, National Evaluation Systems, Amherst, Massachusetts.

 

Report of the National Commission on Teaching And America’s Future, (September, 1996). Summary Report-What Matters Most: Teaching for America’s Future, New York, New York.

 

Soled, Suzanne (1995), Assessment Testing and Evaluation in Teacher Certification, Ablex

Publishing Corp., Norwood, New Jersey.

 

Sykes, Gary, (January 1989), "National Certification for Teachers: A Dialogue" National Board

of Professional Teaching Standards Management, NEA Today.

 

U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, (1992), Testing in American Schools: Asking the Right Questions, Of A-SET-519 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office).

 

 


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