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CITE Standard 6: Opportunity or Obstacle?

DOUGLAS COUNTY – State law mandates that beginning this year, school districts across Colorado, including Douglas County, begin tying student performance to teacher evaluations.
DCSD System Performance Officer Syna Morgan has nicknamed this yearlong implementation as the ‘Year of the Student’ and says that this really could be an excellent opportunity for schools and their educators if we focus on the intended result—the betterment of student performance.
Three laws spurred the changes being implanted in Colorado school districts. Senate Bill 191 mandated the inclusion of student performance in teacher evaluations through multiple measures, not just one tool, such as the TCAP tests. Senate Bill 212 requires that schools use multiple assessment practices in a balanced assessment system. Finally, Senate Bill 163 is about school accountability, ensuring that the result of all of this work benefits overall school performance.
“We’re not tacking on,” explained Morgan. “We’re working very hard to try to align all of the requirements in the laws, so they’re not creating conflicts for our teachers and our schools."
In Douglas County, the implementation of these requirements is part of the District’s CITE (Continued Improvement of Teacher Evaluation) teacher evaluation tool. Beginning next year, Standard 6 in CITE, which includes the balanced assessment system, will become 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation.
The state and DCSD chose to hold teachers “harmless” this year when it comes to the results of Standard 6, to give educators the ability to test and validate the system. Beginning the following school year (2014-15), if a teacher is rated as below effective, the law gives them two years to become effective or lose non-probationary status and face the possibility of termination.
Morgan is encouraging schools and teachers to look at the implementation of CITE Standard 6 as a great opportunity, rather than an obstacle.
“This could be an obstacle if we take a fatalistic attitude about it or if we don’t take advantage of the flexibility we have,” Morgan said.
While the law is a challenging mandate, it has allowed school districts, schools and educators a lot of flexibility, allowing them to create a system that actually meets their needs through several areas.
Flexibility by school
Each school will be able to decide which assessments best measure their students. Teachers can even further tailor assessments to their specific lessons.
Multiple measures as evidence
Relying on a single test, given once a year, is not a very effective way to determine the 21st century skills our students are learning and using on a daily basis. By providing the opportunity for multiple measures, we can add other assessments beyond TCAP.
State and local assessments count
Douglas County has traditionally performed exceptionally well on the state’s assessment tests. Those tests will continue to be part of the assessments used.  In addition, we will include assessments that measure what we value most, such as higher order thinking skills and 21st century skills.
Growth and achievement valued
The focus is not just on how well students do “at grade level,” but how much they have grown.
Model built in collaboration
Since January 2013, 250 teachers, administrators and other stakeholders have provided input on preliminary recommendations on the components of CITE Standard 6.  From July 2013 to June 2014, building-level teams at all schools comprised of teachers and administrators will develop and implement the 2013-2014 CITE 6 Model, with guidance and support from District leadership. This will ensure that the Douglas County system fairly and accurately evaluates our teachers and benefits our students.
Morgan says the development of Douglas County’s system has focused on two major notions—fairness and accuracy.
She says that the educator effectiveness expectation must be the same for everyone. Even if different schools get to choose a different collection of assessments to evaluate their students, everyone across the district will have the same, consistent expectations about what effective and highly effective student growth and achievement looks like.
In fact, great deliberation and consideration have been given, for instance, to determine how long students have to be in an educator’s class before they’re included in a teacher’s body of evidence.
“If a student just walked into my class two weeks ago, they’re not going to be in my body of evidence. I don’t have to be worried that I’ll be evaluated on their performance, even though I’ve only had them for two weeks,” Morgan said.  This does not mean that the progress of that student is not important.  The balanced assessment system is about all students, all the time.
In Douglas County’s system, teachers are only evaluated on the learning of the students that they’ve been able to influence and it ensures that teachers are not solely judged on the performance of a single student or single assessment measure. The goal is to get an accurate, “balanced view” of a teacher.
“This is about a teacher’s impact on student performance. Not on a single student, but student performance as a whole. It’s a holistic view of my impact as an educator,” Morgan said.
DCSD has high expectations for our students and Morgan says that should be no different for our teachers. Naturally, however, there has been some hesitation by teachers across the state about using student performance data in educators’ evaluations.
“Student performance has never been an official part of teacher evaluation in Douglas County and most of the school districts in the state,” Morgan explained. “My students could not be performing well and that would not necessarily show up in my evaluation. It was not a requirement prior to this law that teacher evaluations include student performance.”
The Assessment and System Performance Office has carefully plotted out the implementation this year, to ensure that schools, principals and teachers have all of the training and guidance needed at every step of the way.
“I’m encouraging people to take it slow,” Morgan explained. “When I meet with the leaders, we will address the current steps’ questions and put a parking lot on the questions that are next steps, instead of trying to answer all the incremental questions about every step.”
She says it is natural for some to want to blaze ahead and implement the entire program or to want to know all of the answers, but a slow, intentional pace will ensure that the system has a solid understanding and the support needed to make it a success.
“We’re rolling the model out and going through the development and implementation process in an intentional and purposeful way. We are working directly with schools each step of the way. The District and the schools have an equal share in the responsibility of the success of the model because they will have that level of involvement,” Morgan said.
The following is the schedule for the CITE Standard 6 School-Level Rollout:
August-September CITE Standard 6 Model is finalized at school-level
September-November Finalization of measures at teacher level; student growth targets are set
January-February Midyear review of progress
March-May CITE Standard 6 impact analysis and evaluation review

CITE 6 Teams are being set up at every school and will serve as the go-to place for questions about the new system. Employees can follow this link to learn more about the rollout and find resources.

October 14, 2013 | By Anonymous | Category: Assessment and System Performance

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