The Department of Education is rolling back the requirements in its teacher evaluation system, following recommendations by committees of educators and DOE officials, and opposition to the evaluations by teachers who say the paperwork is a burden.
Fewer evaluations of teachers by principals and students are chief among the changes to the Educator Effectiveness System, which had its first full rollout this past school year. Starting next year, teacher pay will be linked to how well they perform on the evaluations. Only effective and highly effective teachers will be eligible for raises and low performing teachers can be fired.
Principals will evaluate effective teachers only once a year instead of twice, and the 1,800 teachers around the state who were rated highly effective this year will be allowed to keep that rating next year without having to be evaluated, among 18 changes slated to take effect in 2014-15.
Students from kindergarten to second grade will no longer fill out surveys evaluating their teachers, and students in higher grade levels will fill out the surveys only once a year instead of twice. The tweaks are designed to reduce paperwork and the preparation necessary for teachers and the administrators who evaluate them. Five working groups offered modifications to the system during its first year.
Under the changes, there will be a 50 percent reduction in evaluations by principals and a 63 percent reduction in student surveys of teachers statewide.
Maia Daugherty, who is president of the Kona chapter of the Hawaii State Teachers Association but spoke as an individual, welcomed the stripping out of evaluations by kindergarten through second-grade students. Daugherty helped kindergartners evaluate another teacher this past year and said the students found the process disorienting, with some students bubbled in the answers randomly.
While feedback from older students is valuable, Daugherty said, it shouldn’t be linked to pay.
“Sometimes the hardest, most strict teachers are the most effective in that grade level,” she said.
A lot of the teachers she’s spoken to are just resigned that the evaluations must be done, Daugherty added.
“But they don’t see it as an effective use of money and resources,” she said.
Brian De Lima, the Big Island’s representative on the state Board of Education, said he supported reducing the number of evaluations for highly effective teachers.
“I didn’t see the logic of having highly effective teachers evaluated each and every year,” he said. “I felt reviews every few years would be a logical step.”
De Lima said he expects further changes as the EES Joint Committee continues to provide input on the evaluation system.
“The department will continue to collaborate with educators to further improve the EES,” state schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said in a prepared statement. “These changes are just the beginning to refining this system and ultimately, elevating student achievement.”
The next step is to provide support to teachers who fared poorly on the rating system, Matayoshi said.
The Hawaii State Teachers Association and the Hawaii Government Employees Association lauded the changes in a press release.
“We look forward to continuing to work with the department to implement changes that will ensure the workload of principals and vice principals is manageable,” HGEA Executive Director Randy Perreira said.
De Lima said the DOE now needs to focus on interventions for underachieving students and ways to cut down on the chronic absenteeism that is at the root of performance problems in many cases.
“We have great schools and teachers, and students who put in the effort perform well,” he said. “But they have to put in the effort. … If you miss 10 percent of your classes, you’re just not going to do well.”
“We need to intervene at the elementary level so they don’t lose self-esteem,” he said.
Email Bret Yager firstname.lastname@example.org.