Massachusetts: A Commitment to Student Learning as One of Multiple Measures in the Evaluation System
The evaluation system in Massachusetts is designed to give teachers two separate ratings: one for professional practice and one for impact on student learning. After examining self-reported data from all districts, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) found this approach—separating out the student impact rating—had become a major roadblock to the success of the system.
Districts without common assessments, as well as specific grade levels, reported significant challenges implementing the student impact rating because of a lack of reliable evidence as well as staff level of assessment literacy. In addition, educators consistently expressed frustration with having a significant portion of a teacher’s evaluation based on a separate student impact rating.
Problem of Practice
Massachusetts’s problem of practice for the Collaborative was how to revise the separate student impact rating in a way that addressed stakeholders’ concerns but still gave teachers information about their impact on student learning to help direct and focus professional growth and learning. This required the state to find a balance between nonnegotiables and flexibility within their revised regulations. Specifically, the new regulations continued to require a measure of student learning as a nonnegotiable, but the state adopted greater flexibility on the process used to measure student learning.
ESE adopted two strategies to address this problem of practice:
- Meaningfully reengaging stakeholders: The state convened a group of superintendents and union representatives to provide feedback and ideas on how to better measure student learning as part of the evaluation system. Superintendents felt that the separate student impact rating was redundant because teachers were already examining student data in the other standards within the educator evaluation framework in Massachusetts. ESE incorporated this feedback into the revised regulatory language and increased superintendent buy-in. However, one remaining challenge was getting the teachers union buy-in on this change.
- Revised regulatory language on the student impact rating: With input from stakeholders and support from the Collaborative, ESE drafted revised regulatory language that eliminated the separate impact rating and embedded impact on student learning into the second standard of the evaluation framework. Having a separate student impact rating means that educators and districts look at teacher practice and the impact on student learning as two distinct and disparate processes. This revised model streamlines the process and reinforces the conversations on how practice can impact student learning.
Year 2 Work: Integrating Evaluation Across Human Capital Talent Management Systems
ESE is developing a cross-discipline team to examine how the model evaluation system can support each stage in an educator’s career as part of a coherent and aligned human capital talent management system. The ESE cross-discipline team is taking stock of current practices, policies, and supports offered at each stage in the educator career continuum and will identify connections and opportunities to integrate/align with the model evaluation system. Specifically, ESE is researching specific opportunities to integrate content-specific feedback across the various steps of the evaluation process.
Assistant Director, Instructional Policy
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education