Frequently Asked Questions
Why do teachers and principals need to be evaluated?
Like any other profession, teachers and principals are evaluated on their performance. Meaningful evaluations provide insight into strengths and weaknesses, and help identify whether additional professional and personal development may be needed. This information is used by the teachers and principals themselves, as well as their managers, to help teachers reach their maximum potential in helping students succeed.
In Washington, two significant laws passed in 2010 and 2012 (Senate Bills 6696 and 5895) that require new teacher and principal performance evaluations to be implemented statewide in the 2013-14 school year. In addition to providing feedback and matching development opportunities with individual needs, the new evaluations consider student growth as a significant factor in evaluations. Return to the top of the page.
What were evaluations like in the past?
In the past, Washington used an outdated evaluation system that would rate teachers and principals as “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.” This oversimplified rating system did not inspire meaningful conversations about why a teacher or principal was receiving that rating or what other professional supports they needed to grow. The old evaluation system also missed opportunities to incorporate the growing body of research on how to incorporate student learning into educator performance evaluations. Return to the top of the page.
What are evaluations like now?
Under our new evaluation law, Washington has moved to a four-tier rating system (unsatisfactory, basic, proficient, and distinguished), which can help distinguish between high-performing and low-performing educators. These new, more meaningful teacher and principal performance evaluations are tied to research-based frameworks that help measure the professional growth of educators and their impact on student learning. Among other things, these evaluations can help district leaders make well-informed staffing decisions.
Other key differences
- The new evaluation system will include measures of student growth to help assess whether a teacher is effective or could use more training. The prior system did not include any similar measure.
- The new evaluations must be submitted to OSPI to ensure that accountability does not stop at the school level and poorly performing teachers and principals can receive the professional development they need.
- The new evaluation system thoroughly describe effective teaching and leadership to give educators a framework on which to base their practice.
- The new evaluation system sets forth an expectation of instructors basing their lessons on high expectations of student achievement to help develop a culture that recognizes the value of every student and every student’s ability to succeed.
Were the new teacher and principal evaluations piloted in Washington?
Yes. In 2010, pilot districts were selected to pilot the new evaluations by a steering committee of representatives from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), Governor, Washington State Parent-Teachers Association, Washington Education Association, Association of Washington School Principals, Washington Association of School Administrators, and Washington State School Directors Association.
In total, eight districts and one educational service district were selected for the pilot. These districts helped develop and pilot the evaluation model and different tools. More specifically, they helped:
- Develop of criteria for the evaluations,
- Identify (or develop) appropriate and multiple measures of student growth,
- Create evaluation forms,
- Submit evaluation data and all district collected student achievement, aptitude, and growth data regardless of whether the data points are used in evaluations; and
- Collaborate with other pilot districts, OSPI and the review committee
To pilot teacher and principal evaluations, each district was awarded a two-year grant that ranged from $100,000 to 180,000. Return to the top of the page.
What does “TPEP” mean?
“TPEP” used to stand for Teacher and Principal Evaluation Project. Now, it is the Teacher and Principal Evaluation Program. Return to the top of the page.
What are teachers and principals evaluated on?
Teachers and principals are evaluated based on a set of eight performance criteria. These criteria are linked to five important themes: culture, data, content, instruction, and community.
Beginning in the 2013–2014 school year, all districts will gradually implement the new teacher and principal evaluations.
Teachers will be evaluated based on the following eight criteria:
- Centering instruction on high expectations for student achievement.
- Demonstrating effective teaching practices.
- Recognizing individual student learning needs and developing strategies to address those needs.
- Providing clear and intentional focus on subject matter content and curriculum.
- Fostering and managing a safe, positive learning environment.
- Using multiple student data elements to modify instruction and improve student learning.
- Communicating and collaborating with parents and the school community
- Exhibiting collaborative and collegial practices focused on improving instructional practice and student learning.
Principals will be evaluated on these eight criteria:
- Creating a school culture that promotes the ongoing improvement of learning and teaching for students and staff.
- Demonstrating commitment to closing the achievement gap.
- Providing for school safety.
- Leading the development, implementation and evaluation of a data-driven plan for increasing student achievement, including the use of multiple student data elements.
- Assisting instructional staff with alignment of curriculum, instruction, and assessment with state and local district learning goals.
- Monitoring, assisting, and evaluating effective instruction and assessment practices.
- Managing both staff and fiscal resources to support student achievement and legal responsibilities.
- Partnering with the school community to promote student learning.
How does the evaluation process work?
The evaluation process takes place over the course of the school year. Data is collected from observations, artifacts (planning documents, surveys, and learning materials) and multiple measures of student growth.
Generally, principals and assistant principals conduct the evaluations for teachers, while superintendents and assistant superintendents, in most cases, lead the evaluation of principals.
The type of evaluation depends on an educator’s previous performance evaluation and how long a teacher has taught or a principal has led.
A comprehensive evaluation assesses all eight evaluation criteria that will contribute to the comprehensive summative evaluation rating.
Comprehensive evaluations are given to new teachers and principals (with three years or less on the job) or those who received an unsatisfactory score on their last performance evaluation. Experienced principals who are new to a district will also be on a comprehensive evaluation.
A focused evaluation includes an assessment of one of the eight criteria. If a teacher chooses criterion 3, 6, or 8, their accompanying student growth rubrics will be applied to the evaluation. If a teacher chooses criterion 1, 2, 4, 5, or 7, the accompanying student growth rubrics from criterion 6 will be used. Return to the top of the page.
What is student growth and how is it factored into teacher and principal evaluations?
Student growth means “the change in student achievement between two points in time.”
Under our new teacher and principal evaluation law, educators are expected to establish student growth goals that measure student learning over time. Student growth must be a significant factor in performance evaluations and based on multiple measures including classroom-based, school-based, district-based, and state-based tools that are decided at the local level.
Here are some examples of tools that can be used to measure student learning over time.
How are evaluations connected to No Child Left Behind?
Washington’s current evaluation law says that districts “can,” not “shall,” use state tests as one of multiple measures when calculating student growth in teacher and principal evaluations. Our law is inconsistent with the agreement we made with the federal government to maintain our waiver from the restrictions of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Because the legislature did not pass a bill to require student growth on state test scores in 2014, the federal government is revoking our waiver.
Losing this waiver means that our state will have to go back to the punitive NCLB requirements and lose control of over $40 million in flexible federal funds that help our schools serve low-income students. Return to the top of the page.