There have been a lot of changes in the field of education and the streamlined structure of teacher evaluations is just one aspect we have come to see in recent years. Teacher evaluations are based on two facets for educators: teacher performance and student growth measures. While the teacher performance portion of the evaluation can be a little intimidating, teachers are in control of many aspects that will determine whether or not they are satisfied with the results. On the other hand, many fear the repercussions that student growth measures may have on their overall evaluation.
With all the IEPs and diverse learners found in today's classrooms, student growth measure can be a scary term. This would typically be the point where your stomach drops and you try to figure out how to fill your classroom with only top performing students. The problem is that many of us were drawn to the profession to make a difference in the lives of students who struggle with learning and need our guidance the most. While we can't change (nor would we want to) our student populations, we can change our mindset. The best way to handle the angst that can accompany the teacher evaluation system is to stay true to your calling and see what opportunities for input you may have.
It may not seem like it, but depending on the subjects you teach, you can have some control over student growth measures. With the different aspects of this branch of the evaluation process, the LEA (Local Education Agency) does have a hand in determining the data used in relation to what you teach. If no value-added data is available, then SLOs (Student Learning Objectives) come into the equation. The inclusion of SLOs allows teachers to develop long-term measurable learning targets that directly correlate to the curriculum being taught. For teachers in areas that are often found on the budgetary chopping block, this is great news! By developing SLOs to demonstrate a tangible growth percentage, the impact of your curriculum is suddenly visible in the wide world of data! Who can argue with that?
For those who teach in areas with no value-added data or vendor assessment, SLOs become the sole indicator of student growth measures. States that utilize this system have a rubric/checklist that individual teachers and/or teacher teams follow to create SLOs. This is your opportunity to have a voice in how your students are evaluated. Being the target creator or part of the creation team allows teachers to have a deeper understanding of how to relate the rigors of the curriculum to their students. This gives teachers an opportunity to reexamine the nuts and bolts of the educational process for their curricular area and reawaken their love for it in the minds of their students.
Manage your mindset and make the most of student growth measures. The ever-changing field of education can feel like you're sitting in the front car of a roller coaster from time to time. You'll go from anxious to elated over and over again, but hang in there. When you put all the ups and downs together, I bet you'd get in line for a second ride every time!