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Hawaii DOE tweaks teacher evaluations amid concerns

By Nanea Kalani

LAST UPDATED: 03:42 p.m. HST, Jun 12, 2014

<br />Photos by GEORGE F. LEE / glee@staradvertiser.com<br />Kindergarten teacher Sue-Jan Bone prepared her classroom Friday for the start of the school year today. Her Lincoln Elementary School students will be among the first to be taught under Common Core standards.<br />

The state Department of Education on Thursday announced more than a dozen changes being made to its controversial teacher evaluation system amid growing angst from teachers and principals about the workload required to prepare for and perform the reviews.

"The changes reflect the DOE's commitment to reduce burden on teachers and administrators, and are designed to simplify the (Educator Effectiveness System), streamline its components and differentiate the approach for teachers based on need," the department said in a statement Thursday. 

It added that the existing system "is too complicated in some areas and too one-size-fits-all in others."

Overhauling teacher evaluations was a key pledge in the state's application for its $75 million federal Race to the Top grant. Starting next school year a teacher's rating will be tied to personnel consequences such as tenure, raises and termination.

Under the EES -- which was rolled out statewide last fall -- half of a teacher's annual rating is based on student learning and growth, measured in part by standardized test scores. The other half is based on teaching practices and is rated in part through classroom observations and student surveys.

Only teachers rated as effective or highly effective will be eligible for pay increases in the year after the evaluation, while an unsatisfactory rating will be cause for termination.

Recent surveys have revealed widespread concerns over implementation of the EES, with principals saying the teacher evaluation system has negatively affected their schools and morale; teachers complaining they don't understand how their performance rating is calculated; and both groups lamenting the time it requires to prepare for and perform the evaluations.

As part of teachers' 2013-17 labor contract, the state and teachers union agreed to the annual high-stakes evaluations, but the agreement called for a joint committee of DOE and Hawaii State Teachers Association officials to review the design, validity, reliability and supports for the evaluations and recommend changes to improve its design and implementation.

The joint committee was one of five groups providing feedback on the evaluations, and the DOE says it will be implementing a series of 18 changes for the 2014-15 school year, including:

>> Differentiating the number of required classroom observations based on need from twice annually to zero for highly effective teachers; one or more for effective teachers, and two or more for marginal, unsatisfactory, or beginning teachers. The department said overall this means about 9,000 fewer classroom observations, reducing the observation workload by almost 50 percent.

>> Providing the approximately 1,800 teachers rated highly effective in school year 2013-14 the option to carryover their rating in lieu of repeating the evaluation.

>> Reducing the administration of the student survey from bi-annual to annual, eliminating the survey for grades kindergarten to second, and eliminating the demographic questions from the survey. Overall this means about 11,700 fewer survey administrations, or a 63 percent reduction in administered surveys.

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Oahuan wrote:
yes the DOE must dumb down the evaluation review for our teachers. After all, garbage in garbage out.
on June 12,2014 | 04:31PM
star08 wrote:
Its about frequency of survey administration and response, not quality of the instrument.
on June 12,2014 | 07:53PM
dontbelieveinmyths wrote:
Oahuan, please offer a short synopsis of what a good teacher is. Oh and tell me how you would measure it.
on June 12,2014 | 08:09PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Population control, because once a child is born, it is the responsibility of society to see to it that the child will become a model citizen in the next generation. For example any child born this year will likely have a good opportunity to survive The Turn of The Century, which will occur on December 31, 2099.
on June 12,2014 | 04:43PM
Bdpapa wrote:
No it is not the responsibility of society. That belongs to the parents.
on June 12,2014 | 08:43PM
carrstar11 wrote:
FINALLY the DOE listens to their teachers & principals.
on June 12,2014 | 05:18PM
HAL9000 wrote:
And the special education students who cannot reAd or understand the questions remain the same. If their teachers score low they loose. Not reliable, not valid but good enough to vote out the governor.
on June 12,2014 | 06:57PM
HAL9000 wrote:
If the test is not reliable nor valid, let's go with it, because our children won't understand and that is okay we will get rid of freedom of speech, due process, and good teachers, but that is Hawaii. Dumber than dumb.
on June 12,2014 | 07:02PM
false wrote:
Evaluations don't fix the huge demands of under performing students. Teachers are not magicians but we can put on a great dog and pony show to get past the EES and keep data sets to demonstrate instructional response. Getting kids to pass the test over and over is not guaranteed no matter how great the instruction is. Too many of you in this blog just haven't an ounce of knowledge about the depth and breath of the instructional process. It's not playing checkers.
on June 12,2014 | 07:59PM
sailfish1 wrote:
It almost sounds like you teachers fake your way past the EES system. And regarding under performing students, if they cannot pass, they shouldn't pass. It's not a matter of "Getting kids to pass the test over and over". You need to rethink what a teachers role is.
on June 12,2014 | 08:36PM
sailfish1 wrote:
When is all this whining going to end with the DOE, teachers, and principals? Now the evaluations are too complicated and take too much time to do. I thought the teachers and principals were smart people and can do evaluations that everybody else in the U.S. is doing - I was wrong.
on June 12,2014 | 08:28PM
false wrote:
No evaluations in the real world are like evaluations for students, it's an everyday observation, come to work early, materials ready and prepared, tools in place, personal problems parked in the car, and "hooray face" on. When you greet the kids they know you are "on it" and when the coaches or principals walk in the classroom it "reads" of the professional preparation and resolve in every second of instruction. That's how evaluation is done in the real world of work. The boss in the real world looks you over ever day the way teachers look over kids every day to decide "what's next". No dog and pony shows in the real world.
on June 13,2014 | 05:29AM
Punini wrote:
Teachers in disadvantaged area schools will have a tougher time meeting evaluation standards than those in the advantaged area schools. Why? Because all of their teachers in the advantaged areas are tenured. Where do they get them from? They come from disadvantage area schools where they take the best of the tenured that apply for their vacancies. These schools losing their best teachers then have to go out and hire inexperienced teachers. They’ve even had to go the mainland to get them. As we all know in the beginning working years competence comes from making mistakes – at the expense of kids learning. A solution is needed.
on June 12,2014 | 08:29PM
false wrote:
Kids in the disadvantaged schools come from so much adult failure they make the classroom chaotic. They have no passion to learn or conform, Having so many of them is traumatic for all the other students who want to learn. It's telling when good students request to be in a more manageable and higher performing section because they recognize that the chaos is undermining their learning. The kids know. Referrals for these students didn't get them out of the classroom or the help they needed. That is never a part of the evaluation, the percentage of crisis students in regular ed. Behavioral misfits need a different environment. In school suspension provides isolation but does it get them the tutoring they need. In elementary they had no in school isolation with tutoring which is what they required. Teachers just lose points on classroom management and proficiency because the foul behavior and language and threats works against them. Multiply that time 5 or 6 in a room of 25 or 30. Disadvantaged says it all.
on June 13,2014 | 05:37AM
my_opinion_only wrote:
Very true. Sad but true (...and then the incredibly dedicated teachers who DO stick it out in such schools, because they see a real need, want to help, want to break the cycle, love the kids get Punished? "No more pay increases for youuu, sucker! Never again!"
on June 13,2014 | 08:42AM
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