3. When will my school district start using the new evaluation system?

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1 QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS REGARDING THE NEW PA EVALUATION SYSTEM Prepared by the PSEA Legal Division and Education Services Department Current as of Sept. 4, 2012 Effective July 1, 2012, Act 82 of 2012 will mandate a new evaluation system for public school employees. Act 82 amends Section 1123 of the School Code, which is the authority for the previously PDE approved evaluation instrument (PDE 5501) and PDE approved alternative evaluation forms (PDE 426 and 428). The following Q and A provides information about the new evaluation system. 1. What does the new law do? The new law establishes a framework for evaluating school professionals that includes both multiple measures of student achievement and observed professional practice. It directs the Department of Education to develop more specific elements of the rating tools over the next two years and authorizes the State Board of Education to subsequently modify those tools by regulation. 2. Are all public school entities required to use the new rating tool? Yes, in time all school districts, intermediate units, and area vocational technical schools will be required to use the rating tools developed by the Department, or locally developed and approved by the Department, that meet the measures of professional effectiveness established in the law. Charter schools are not required to use the new evaluation system. 3. When will my school district start using the new evaluation system? The new law provides that the new evaluation system will be introduced in phases. No one will be evaluated using the new tools in the coming school year ( ). Professionals employees who are participating in the pilot or roll-out of the new system will continue to be formally evaluated using the current system as data is collected from the pilot. Beginning with the school year, all public school entities are required to use the new evaluation system to evaluate the effectiveness of professional (tenured) and temporary professional (nontenured) employees working as classroom teachers. A classroom teacher is defined as one who provides direct instruction to students related to a specific subject or grade level. Beginning with the school year, the new evaluation system will be used for all principals and nonteaching professional employees (both tenured and non-tenured). Nonteaching professional employees include school psychologists, school guidance counselors, school dental hygienists, school nurses, and home and school visitors. Depending on language in your collective bargaining agreement, there may be a delay in this implementation schedule (Question 4). Ultimately all public school districts, intermediate units, and area vocational technical schools (but not charter schools) will be using the new system or a

2 locally developed system approved by PDE as meeting or exceeding the effectiveness measures in the law. 4. What if my contract provides for a negotiated evaluation system or specifies the use of PDE Forms 5501, 426 or 428? Because the law cannot impair an existing contract, locals that currently have contract language (meaning language in place as of July 1, 2012) requiring the use of a particular evaluation form will have the benefit of that language until the contract expires. The new evaluation system will be implemented at contract expiration. This means the new system will be implemented during any status quo period following contract expiration. For all contracts ratified after July 1, 2012, the parties may not negotiate a rating system other than the new system or a locally developed PDE approved system as authorized by the law. 5. Can we still bargain over any discretionary components of the new evaluation system? Yes, there are some discretionary aspects that may be open to permissive bargaining. A district may use a locally developed system approved by PDE; therefore, a local may bargain that the district use an approved alternative system. In addition, under the new system a district may select certain local data sources for use in the 20 percent local data portion of the PDE system. The selection must be from a list approved by PDE and published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin by June 30 of each year. It is permissive for the local to bargain over the selection of local data sources (provided that the components are selected from the PDE-approved list). In addition, local associations may be able to bargain various procedural issues such as timelines for notice and opportunity to respond to evaluations. Finally, locals associations should consult with their UniServ Representatives regarding any impact bargaining. 6. How will the new rating tool be developed? The new law requires the Secretary of Education to develop the rating tool in consultation with education experts, parents of school-age children enrolled in a public school, teachers and administrators, including research and collaboration conducted by the Department of Education. The rating tool must contain the components set forth in the new law. The State Board of Education may develop standards or regulations consistent with the law but does not have to approve the new rating tool. 7. What rating categories will exist under the new evaluation system? The new evaluation system includes four summative ratings: Distinguished, Proficient, Needs Improvement, and Failing.

3 8. What ratings are considered satisfactory or unsatisfactory? Under the new law, a rating of distinguished or proficient is satisfactory. A failing rating is unsatisfactory. A needs improvement rating is satisfactory, but if the employee receives a subsequent needs improvement rating within 10 years from the same employer where the employee is in the same certification area, that subsequent needs improvement rating will be unsatisfactory. 9. How will a classroom teacher s performance be measured under the new evaluation system? For classroom teachers, 50 percent of the overall rating is to be based on multiple student performance measures which shall be comprised of the following: A. 15 percent building level data, including but not limited to: 1) student performance on assessments (PSSA and Keystone tests) 1 ; 2) value-added data from PDE; 3) graduation rate; 4) promotion rate; 5) attendance rate; 6) advanced placement course participation; and 7) SAT and PSAT data. B. 15 percent teacher specific data, including but not limited to: 1) student performance on assessments (PSSA and Keystone tests) 2 ; 2) value-added data from PDE; 3) progress in meeting IEP goals; and 4) locally developed rubrics. C. 20 percent elective data, including student achievement measures that are locally developed and selected by the school entity from a list approved by PDE, including but not limited to: 1) school-designed measures and examinations; 2) nationally recognized standardized tests; 3) industry certification examinations; 4) student projects; and 5) student portfolios. The remaining 50 percent will be based on classroom observation and practice models related to student achievement in each of the following areas: 1) planning and preparation; 2) classroom environment; 3) instruction, and 4) professional responsibilities. 10. How will a principal s performance be measured under the new evaluation system? For principals (including assistant and vice principals and directors of vocational education), 50 percent of the overall rating will be based upon multiple measures of student performance including: 15 percent building level data (see above); 15 percent correlation data based on teacher level measures (see above); and 20 percent elective data (see above). The remaining 50 percent will be based on principal s observed effectiveness giving due consideration to similar, but not exact, factors used for classroom teachers: 1) planning and preparation; 2) school environment; 3) delivery of service; and 4) professional development. 1 Or other equivalent local test or another test established by the State Board. 2 Or other equivalent local test or another test established by the State Board.

4 11. How will a nonteaching professional employee s performance be measured under the new evaluation system? For a nonteaching professional, 20 percent of the overall rating will be based on the student performance of all students in the building in which the employee works. The remainder will be based on these factors: 1) planning and preparation; 2) educational environment; 3) delivery of service; and 4) professional development. 12. How will administrators categorize teachers as distinguished, proficient, needs improvement, or unsatisfactory? The new law requires PDE to develop a rating scale to reflect student performance measures and employee observation results, and to establish overall score ranges for each of the four rating categories. One of the purposes of the pilot and phased implementation of the new evaluation system is to give the department time to develop a rubric for observing professional behavior, provide training for those who will be using the rubric, and conduct reliability studies on the consistent application of the rubric. It is not yet clear what type of training will be offered to administrators concerning use of the new system. 13. How will my students performance be measured? As explained above, student performance will be measured at the building level, individual teacher classroom level, and through locally developed measures selected from a Department list. The rating tool developed by PDE is required to include the weights given to the multiple measures of student performance; therefore, we will have more specific information about how student performance will be measured when the rating tool is developed. 14. When will the rating tool be available? PDE is required to develop, issue, and publish the new rating tool for classroom teachers no later than June 30, PDE is required to do the same for principals and nonteaching professional employees by June 30, If student performance counts for half of my score, can I be given a needs improvement or unsatisfactory rating for low student performance scores alone? No. The new law states that no employee shall be rated needs improvement or failing based solely on student test scores. 16. What happens if I receive a needs improvement or an unsatisfactory rating? Under the new law, an employee who receives a rating of needs improvement or failing must participate in a performance improvement plan. The plan is to be designed by the employer, with the input from the employee and may include mentoring, coaching, recommendations for professional development and intensive supervision. Your local will represent and assist you in the design of the improvement plan.

5 17. Can a tenured teacher still be terminated for two consecutive unsatisfactory ratings? Yes; the law has not changed in that regard. Before terminating any tenured employee for incompetency, the school employer must rate the employee unsatisfactory in two consecutive ratings not less than four months apart. A temporary professional (nontenured) employee may still be dismissed with just one unsatisfactory rating. 18. Can I be terminated for low student performance scores alone? No. The new law mandates that no employee can be dismissed unless provided with a completed rating tool that includes a description, based upon classroom observations, of deficiencies in practice which are supported by detailed anecdotal records that justify the unsatisfactory rating. Therefore, no employee can be dismissed for unsatisfactory performance unless he or she has received two unsatisfactory ratings not less than four months apart and has received an evaluation containing documented deficiencies in his or her practice. 19. Can we still grieve/arbitrate a termination? Yes. As before, a termination can be grieved under a just cause clause, an implied just cause argument, or under the School Code requirement of two consecutive unsatisfactory ratings as incorporated into the collective bargaining agreement. The new law does not affect the employee s ability to file grievances based on ratings or to challenge termination or discipline through the arbitration process. 20. Will my student performance information remain private? The new law provides that an employee s individual rating form shall not be subject to disclosure under the Right-to-Know law. Building level value-added data is already subject to disclosure under current law. As to the 15 percent of the evaluation that is tied to teacher specific data, it may be possible to argue that some of that information should be protected from disclosure under exemptions to the Right-to-Know law and that some of the information is prohibited from disclosure under the Federal Education Records Privacy Act. The same arguments might exist for the 20 percent of the evaluation that is tied to elective data. The PSEA Legal Division is examining this issue. 21. How will special education teachers be evaluated? The new law does not contain specific provisions for the evaluation of special education teachers. The evaluation system for classroom teachers will apply in general to special education teachers; however, PDE is currently developing practice guides to help principals apply the new observation rubric specifically to special education teachers. The law may also allow PDE to assign different weights to specific measures of student achievement for different categories of teachers. PSEA will continue to monitor PDE s work around the evaluation of special education teachers and advocate for a system that is valid and fair.

6 22. How is the implementation timeline different from what was previously published with regard to the teacher evaluation pilot program? The new law requires PDE to develop a complete evaluation system for classroom teachers by June 30, 2013 and for principals and nonteaching professional employees by June 30, PDE will need to develop the components of the system more rapidly than originally intended under the pilot program. Before the passage of Act 82, PDE intended to have building level data ready for inclusion in teacher evaluations during the school year and elective data ready to pilot in and PDE had not announced a proposed schedule for devising and incorporating a measure of teacher specific data into the pilot program. 23. How can the rating tool be changed going forward? After June 30, 2013 (for the classroom teacher rating tool) and June 30, 2014 (for the principal and nonteaching professional rating tool), changes to the rating system, including changes to both the observation rubric and the measures of student achievement, must be made by the State Board of Education through the regulatory review process, which requires that the Pennsylvania Independent Regulatory Review Commission approve any changes. 24. Can my district submit a locally developed evaluation system for approval by PDE? The new law provides that a rating tool developed by a school district, intermediate unit, or area vocational-technical school which has been approved by PDE as meeting or exceeding the measures of effectiveness required by the new law may be used. PDE has not yet determined the process for submitting locally developed evaluation systems for approval, or determined the new criteria or standards that will be used to evaluate submissions. 25. What happens to the previously approved PDE 5501 and approved alternates PDE 426 and 428? Once the new rating tools are published for classroom teachers, principals, and nonteaching professionals, the old forms are discontinued for use. The only exception is if the old forms are referenced in a collective bargaining agreement in existence on the date the law took effect (July 1, 2012). In that case, the old forms will be used until the contract expires. 26. What was PSEA s role in developing the new evaluation system? PSEA has been working with PDE and other stakeholders since 2009 on developing a new system of teacher evaluation. Our initial involvement was as a member of a Stakeholder Committee convened under a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to examine teacher and principal evaluation. As a member of this Committee, PSEA helped design the original teacher observation rubric that was used in a statewide pilot in PSEA representatives also are participating in groups that are developing rubrics for nonteaching specialists such as school psychologists, school guidance counselors, school dental hygienists, and home and school visitors. PSEA has not, however, been involved in formal planning related to the design and implementation of the student achievement portion of the new evaluation

7 system. PSEA has serious concerns about the lack of evidence for the reliability and validity of the use of student standardized test scores and other student outcomes as a significant portion of an educator s summative evaluation. We have documented these concerns and continue to share them with legislators and with the Corbett administration. 27. What is PSEA s position on the new law? While the legislation is not perfect, it is much better than Governor Corbett s original plan. The new evaluation system includes a structure for evaluating educators based on multiple measures of achievement, not just standardized tests. Fifty percent of an educator s evaluation will be based on classroom observation, and an educator cannot be rated unsatisfactory solely on the basis of those multiple measures. If rated unsatisfactory, the employee must be given an improvement plan and no tenured employee can be dismissed unless there are two consecutive unsatisfactory ratings that include classroom observations of the employee s deficiencies in practice supported by detailed anecdotal records. PSEA believes that evaluations should accurately reflect performance and be based on both the art and the science of teaching. Evaluations should recognize the wide variety of factors that go into teaching our children. The new evaluation system achieves most of these goals. PSEA will continue to monitor the development and implementation of the new evaluation system and work with PDE and other stakeholders to ensure that the evaluation system, as defined in the new law, is implemented fairly. 28. What are the next steps for local associations? Nothing will change in the upcoming school year, so there will be time to evaluate each local s situation and familiarize our members with the new law. PSEA staff from the Legal, Education Services, Research, and Field Divisions will continue to analyze the law, monitor any developments, and distribute information, including recommendations for bargaining over discretionary aspects of the law. In the meantime, each local should check its contract for any language requiring the use of a specific evaluation form and should be aware of the contract s expiration date. Each local should document any past practices that exist with respect to current evaluation procedures. It will be critical for local leaders to meet with the UniServ to discuss issues relating to current contract language, implementation dates, past practices, and any permissive or impact bargaining opportunities.

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