Here’s how teacher ratings in Utah could change

The Utah State Board of Education wants to change the way the state’s public school teachers are evaluated after an audit last year found the current system is ineffective.

However, after much discussion on Thursday, board members voted to delay approving any changes as they felt the proposed wording for the new rule was not up to par.

“I don’t feel like we hit the mark here,” said board member Molly Hart. “Even if we pass that test today, I don’t think we’re at a point where our educators would really really benefit. And the last thing we can afford is a teacher rating system that’s seen as “hopping back and forth” or “less than.” We have to do this right.”

Currently, teachers are rated using a rating on a four-point scale that describes their level of effectiveness: not effective (1), minimally effective (2), marginally effective (3), and effective (4).

“We had [a] recent legislative review and feedback from teachers and feedback from school leaders: there was a lot of concern about this,” said Kami Dupree, specialist in educator development at USBE.

Fear because, according to the audit, school leaders used the appraisal system as a “punitive tool” to identify underperforming teachers and engage them in performance improvement plans, rather than as a tool for teacher improvement.

“The new rule should create a space for a more growth-oriented mindset in assessment,” Dupree said.

The proposed rule would retain the four-point rating system but remove the effectiveness designations. Instead, the numbers would correlate to two performance indicators: student outcomes and professional development.

These performance indicators are listed in the state code as core purposes of assessments, Dupree explained.

The scores would be defined as follows:

Zero • The teacher did not meet performance expectations.

One: The teacher partially met performance expectations by presenting evidence of continued growth, but failed to demonstrate evidence of academic impact.

Second, the teacher met performance expectations by providing evidence of academic success, but failed to provide evidence of continued growth.

Three • The teacher met performance expectations by providing evidence of academic impact and continued growth.

Board members argued that the proposed rule deprives teachers of both language and the ability to “exceed expectations”.

“I do think that removing the word ‘exceeded’ is not a good move, I don’t know,” said board member Christina Boggess. “Some teachers are really great here. They’re really good at what they do. you thrive. They stand out from their peers. Why should they be stripped of the word ‘exceeded’ as a general rule in a performance appraisal?”

Dupree said there was nothing in the rule that would prevent school districts from setting those standards.

“We just feel that our job as a state is to talk about whether teachers are meeting employment and job performance expectations, not to identify really great teachers,” Dupree said. “It’s a local decision.”

While a new rating system is still under consideration, the USBE has approved updates to the Utah Effective Educator Standards, which serve as the “backbone” for teacher ratings, Dupree explained.

The updates add grading criteria for non-teacher roles that were previously graded to the same standards as teachers.

“What the assessment of educators focuses on or is linked to or aligned with is what these standards say,” Dupree said. “And what has happened is that there are, for example, school counselors, school social workers or school nurses who are evaluated based on the way the rule was formulated in the teaching standards. And as you can imagine, effective teaching is not effective counseling.”

The new rule adds standards for speech therapists, school psychologists, school social workers and other non-teacher roles. The standards relate to relevant professional organizations. For example, a school psychologist would be judged against the standards already established by the National Association of School Psychologists.

Should an organization change its standards, the USBE would have to agree to a rule change.

Utah’s Effective Educator Standards underwent a significant revision last year after not being updated since 2013.

At that time there were 10 standards, such as B. Learner development, leadership and collaboration; and professional and ethical conduct. Each standard contained different indicators or things to look for within the standard – 54 in total.

“That’s a lot to rate any teacher,” Dupree said. “Part of our effort to refresh these over the past year has been to simplify them and also make some room for some of our schools that are ready to move forward with personalized and competency-based learning.”

There are now only five standards and 20 indicators.

It is not yet known when the USBE will proceed with the proposed rating system. While teachers are now rated on 20 indicators instead of 54, the existing four-level rating scale will not change immediately.

“It puts us in a world where we still judge teachers by their ‘effectiveness,'” Dupree said. “This rating system will continue to be the same.”

Justin Scaccy

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