PA Coalition for World Class Math

                                  PA teacher and principal pilot program (9/21/2011)

September 21, 2011
More Than 100 Entities Sign Up to Participate in Teacher and Principal Evaluation Pilot Program

Harrisburg – Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis today announced that 104 K-12 entities, including nine career and technical centers, nine charter schools and nine intermediate units, have signed-up to participate in the new teacher and principal evaluation pilot program.

“I am encouraged by the number of willing superintendents, administrators and teachers who have stepped forward to participate in this program,” Tomalis said.  “This new system would allow us to recognize that outstanding teaching is taking place in countless classrooms across Pennsylvania and to identify those individuals who may need additional professional development. I believe this new evaluation system will provide educators with opportunities to grow within their field, which will have a positive impact on the academic success of students.”

The Department of Education began developing a new, comprehensive educator assessment system two years ago with an $800,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. With guidance from a steering committee, comprised of representatives from across the educational spectrum, the business community and three research entities, the first round of the pilot program took place during the 2010-11 school year.

Participants who have signed-up for the second round of the pilot program will receive training this fall on how to administer the new assessments. Beginning in January 2012, participating pilot schools will use the new evaluation method and provide feedback to the Department of Education. This new evaluation will not be used to determine an educator’s official 2011-12 assessment.

Pennsylvania’s current evaluation method for teachers and principals is comprised solely on observations and does not factor in student achievement. It also only categorizes an educator as “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” and does not adequately assess a teacher’s instructional method.

The limitations of the assessment have led to the misrepresentation of the effectiveness of educators in Pennsylvania. Based on statewide reports of teacher and principal evaluations, conducted during the 2009-10 school year, 99.4 percent of all teachers and 99.2 percent of all principals received a satisfactory rating. 

“The results of the collected data on teacher effectiveness only further justify the need for a new evaluation process. When there is such a drastic disparity between the quality of educators and the achievement of the students, there is a serious problem,” Tomalis said. “How can virtually 100 percent of educators be evaluated as satisfactory, yet, based on statewide assessments, one-in-four students are scoring below proficient in reading and one-in-three are scoring below proficient in math? It just does not add up.”

Under the new system, 50 percent of an educator’s evaluation would be comprised of multiple measures of student achievement.  The remaining portion, classified as traditional practices, would include areas such as classroom observations.

“The need to review and overhaul Pennsylvania’s educator evaluation system has been an ongoing debate,’’ Tomalis said, “but the time for discussion is behind us.”

“Students, parents and taxpayers deserve an educational system in which educators and school leaders are held accountable for the work being done in the classroom. In turn, the new evaluation system will ensure educators are provided with an objective and consistent evaluation that provides meaningful feedback,” Tomalis said.

At the conclusion of the pilot program the Department of Education will review feedback and suggestions from the field to make any necessary changes to finalize the evaluation system in preparation for roll out in the 2012-13 school year.
Media contact:  Tim Eller, 717-783-9802