Educator Effectiveness

November, 2014:
BPS educators demonstrate continued growth and development in evaluations

For the second year in a row, educators across the Boston Public Schools (BPS) continue to receive feedback to guide their professional growth and development through performance evaluations at significantly higher levels than in the past. Results published today by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education show that in the 2013-14 school year, 87.1 percent of BPS teachers received an annual evaluation – compared to about 23 percent of teachers evaluated annually in 2009.

School-level evaluation data is also now available on the DESE website.

For the 3,701 BPS teachers receiving evaluations in the 2013-14 school year, 16.8 percent were rated exemplary, 77.5 percent were rated proficient, 4.9 percent were rated needs improvement, and 0.7 percent were rated unsatisfactory. Comparatively, in 2012-13, 13.5 percent of teachers were exemplary, 79.5 percent were proficient, 5.8 percent were needs improvement, and 1.2 percent were rated unsatisfactory.

The BPS evaluation system is aligned with strengthened state standards and was put in place in all schools in the 2012-13 school year. This report covers the second year of full implementation.

“Feedback and professional growth are what help educators meet the learning needs of their students,” said BPS Interim Superintendent John McDonough. “We use these evaluations to connect our teachers with professional development to help them become great educators. This is an essential part of our plan to ensure every child has a world-class teacher and school leader in every classroom and school. This year we continue to build on our initial successes so educators get consistent, fair and meaningful feedback and assessments of their teaching practice.”

BPS continues to take steps to ensure objectivity, fairness and equity in the performance evaluation process. Variations between subgroups that appeared in 2013’s evaluations are significantly reduced in the 2014 evaluation results. The number of Black educators rated underperforming has fallen by nearly 40 percent: 9.3 percent of Black educators are rated as underperforming in 2014, compared with 15 percent of Black educators rated as underperforming in 2013. A variation between ratings for Latino and White teachers was also cut by approximately one third: 6.2 percent of Latino teachers were rated as underperforming in 2014 compared with 9.9 percent in 2013. The numbers of White educators rated underperforming has held mostly steady: 4.6 percent were rated underperforming in 2014 while 5.1 percent of white educators were rated underperforming in 2013.

BPS has continued to work with principals to ensure consistent practices and standards for all employees in every school. Evaluation protocols are a component of an 11-hour training that all evaluators must complete, and is part of the 15-hour Observation and Feedback Course, which supports evaluators in giving targeted, actionable feedback to teachers. The Office of Human Capital has also partnered with the Office of Equity to train school leaders and the Superintendent’s leadership team on objectivity and the concept of implicit bias. Moving forward all evaluators will annually be required to take three modules of an evaluation “refresher course.” Members of the Office of Human Capital continue to partner with principals and headmasters to implement the evaluation system with fidelity to the state’s regulations.

This year’s data does highlight an area of concern, McDonough said – just 60.4 percent of school leaders received a performance evaluation prior to the state reporting deadline. Of these, 19.4 percent were rated exemplary, 79.1 percent received a “proficient” evaluation and 1.5 percent received an unsatisfactory evaluation.

“The vast majority of our school leaders are doing a great job conducting evaluations of the teachers in their school,” he said. “The fact that we have moved forward on a new evaluation process is key and core to leveraging our success to ensure we have excellent teachers in every classroom in every school every day. We still have additional work to do, but after a short two-year period, the strength of our approach to evaluation continues to signify improvement and is promising for great outcomes for students.”

The successful implementation of the performance evaluation system has laid the foundation for reform of the District’s human capital systems. In 2013, the District ended the process of forced placement of tenured teachers into schools, and allowed all schools in BPS to select the most qualified candidate for every one of over 1,000 jobs posted. Moreover, in the past the District completed over 85% of its new teacher hiring in July, August, and September – long after the most desirable new teachers, who are representative of the racial, cultural, and linguistic diversity in Boston, were already hired by neighboring schools and districts. By offering all Boston Public Schools hiring autonomy in the 2013-2014 school year, the District today is better positioned to hire racially, culturally, and linguistically-diverse teachers than ever before. “In the last two years, we have fundamentally changed what it means to start and sustain a career as an educator in the Boston Public Schools,” said Ross Wilson, Assistant Superintendent for Human Capital. “Recruitment, hiring, professional support and evaluation are now aligned to put an effective teacher reflective of students’ racial, cultural, and linguistic diversity in every classroom, but we still have more hard work to do. We are up to the challenge.”