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Educator Evaluation Reform

Educator Evaluation Reform Plan Makes Important Strides

Legislation to overhaul the current evaluation system was approved by the General Assembly on March 25, along with legislative language aimed at addressing the COVID-19 emergency in public schools.

The bill will overhaul the current educator evaluation system, significantly reducing the impact of student performance, including standardized tests, in favor of classroom observation and practice. 

It will:

  • Reduce the impact of standardized tests and student performance components
  • Increase the focus on classroom observation and practice
  • Recognize the impact of student poverty on student performance
  • Encourage greater collaboration

The First Step: Admitting that Act 82 Doesn’t Work

An effective educator is key to student success, and every student deserves to have high-quality educators in their schools and classrooms.
Unfortunately, administrators and educators agree that the current evaluation system isn’t working. The current system doesn’t support the continuous improvement of educators in their practice and professionalism as promised in 2012, because it:

  • Relies too much on standardized testing
  • Punishes educators in high-poverty schools
  • Overburdens administrators and educators
  • Evaluates educators on factors that are beyond their control to improve

Working Together

Sen. Ryan Aument and Rep. Jesse Topper have engaged in a deliberative process to engage PSEA and other stakeholder groups in a dialogue to make significant improvements to the evaluation system.

  • PSEA has worked with Sen. Aument for almost two years on the legislation
  • Educators’ recommendations were heard and are reflected in SB 751 and HB 1607
  • The bills increase emphasis on educator practice, reduce emphasis on student performance measures, and encourage greater collaboration between educators and administrators.

 

What Reform Looks Like

Under current law (Act 82 of 2012), student performance components, based in part on standardized test results, account for 50 percent of an educator’s evaluation, while classroom observation and practice account for the other 50 percent.

SB 751 and HB 1607 would realign those weights, basing 70 percent of an educator’s evaluation on classroom observation and practice and 30 percent on student performance components.

By reducing the impact of standardized tests and student performance components, increasing the focus on classroom observation and practice, and taking the first step to recognize poverty's mpact on achievement, PA can improve the evaluation system.

Classroom Teachers Comparison

Act 82 of 2012

SB 751 and HB 1607

Non-Teaching Professional Employees Comparison

Act 82 of 2012

SB 751 and HB 1607

*Student Performance Measures Revised

The bill would simplify and revise the building-level measure School Percentage Profile (SPP) by mitigating several indicators, particularly those that unfairly penalize employees in struggling schools. The building level measure would also be adjusted by a “challenge multiplier” based on the population of economically disadvantaged students in school building in order to account for some of the strong correlation between poverty and standardized test performance.

The current Teacher Specific and Elective Data (student learning outcome) components would be combined into one overall category with each being worth 10 percent to close out the remaining 20 percent.

Recognizing the Impact of Student Poverty

SB 751 and HB 1607 take a step forward in recognizing the impact that student poverty has on student achievement. The proposal would adjust the building-level measure by a “challenge multiplier” based on the population of economically disadvantaged students in each school building. This accounts for some of the strong correlation between poverty and standardized test performance.

Poverty affects students well beyond the classroom, often hampering their health and well-being, language development, and access to books and learning opportunities. Students living in poverty often score lower on standardized tests than students in middle-income and more affluent districts.

If Pennsylvania is going to continue to use test data in educator evaluations, the commonwealth must control for factors beyond the control of educators and students. These bills take an important first step in acknowledging the relationship between poverty and student achievement.

Encouraging a Fairer Process

In addition to the components above, educators have identified other important adjustments that we believe would improve the current evaluation system. Sen. Aument and Rep. Topper’s legislation takes this input into account and addresses key issues that will improve the system overall.

  • Allows changes to student learning outcomes (SLOs) in mid-year for specific reasons, based on an agreement between an employee and an administrator
  • Authorizes educators to provide evidence and artifacts to evaluators
  • Allows employees to provide input on their improvement plans
  • Requires improvement plans to provide actionable feedback and identify employer resources to help educators improve
  • Ensures that there can be no limits on the number of people rated as “distinguished”
  • Shortens the “needs improvement window” to four years instead of the current ten years