Delaware: Communication and Stakeholder Engagement 2.0
After reviewing the teacher responses to a biannual statewide educator survey, the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) found that less than 50% of teachers viewed the state’s evaluation system (DPAS II) as a tool for professional growth.
Through additional educator interviews and regular monitoring visits to their districts, Delaware discovered that many teachers were confused about the system, its purpose, and its role in supporting teacher professional growth. In addition, the DDOE found inconsistencies in how administrators were presenting and implementing the system within their own districts and schools.
Problem of Practice
DDOE staff attributed this widespread misinformation to a rushed roll-out that emphasized compliance-oriented information (the “how-to”) over the larger vision of supporting professional growth (the “why”).
During monitoring visits and after correcting the information and explaining how the evaluation system can be used to support professional learning, department staff found that teachers’ level of buy-in and views of the system markedly improved.
As a result, Delaware’s problem of practice in Year 1 of the Collaborative was how to strengthen and improve communication strategies so educators can receive accurate information to increase educator buy-in.
Delaware adopted three strategies to improve communication on the evaluation system:
- Administrator refresher training focused more explicitly on improving practice and less on ensuring compliance. The state provided a one-day, statewide training to all administrators during the summer. The training not only revisited policy updates but also highlighted the intent of the system and demonstrated how opportunities for improving educator practice are woven throughout the evaluation system. Administrators learned how to use evaluation data to drive professional learning and quality goal-setting strategies.
- Established quarterly DPAS II Lead meetings that includes an assigned a lead liaison for the evaluation system from each district. DDOE communicate regularly with this group of liaisons through email on major changes, events, or training. In addition, DDOE meets with this group in-person and virtually to share information and best practices for monitoring the quality of evaluations, collecting and analyzing data, calibrating, and providing training. During meetings, group members share tips, successes, and strategies to address problems of practice. DDOE created a professional development session to prepare the liaisons to redeliver training on the Student Improvement Component portion of the system, and an introductory module titled “Getting to Know the Evaluation System,” both for new teachers and as a refresher for experienced teachers.
- Launched a monthly newsletter on the evaluation system framework and processes. Each edition of the newsletter contains research behind selected criteria from the teacher evaluation rubric and notices and links to professional development sessions that administrators can use to dig deeper into the criteria by examining the elements of the criteria, common “look fors,” and observing effective performance of the criteria.
Year 2 Work: Rethinking Tools and Processes to Support High-Quality Feedback
After delving further into feedback from the field, DDOE is examining ways to revise and improve both their teacher evaluation rubric as well as supporting tools and processes. Specifically, DDOE is working to improve alignment between the rubric and Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC) standards as well as Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The state is also working to (a) reduce redundancies and streamline the rubric to create a more efficient, less burdensome process for educators, and (b) add more “look-fors” and real-world examples to support existing resources.
Education Associate, Educator Evaluation
Delaware Department of Education