ELYRIA, Ohio — Ahead of the state’s full implementation of a new teacher evaluation system, Constellation Schools in Elyria and Lorain have joined other districts statewide in implementing pilot programs to gain feedback on the new system. The new rendition of the Ohio Teachers Evaluation System aims to provide greater clarity and local control in how teachers are evaluated, officials said.
The roll-out of OTES 2.0 is the product of legislation passed in 2018, which required the State Board of Education to make changes to the decade old teacher evaluation system. The new system takes effect for the 2020-2021 school year. The key tenants of the new system include providing more clarity to the evaluation rubric, which aims to make the evaluation process less subjective, said Tom Flood, the principal at Constellation Schools’ Elyria Community school.
“It was hard to kind of tell if a teacher was skilled or developing. With OTES 2.0, there is a lot more clarity in that,” Flood said. “With OTES 2.0, we’re looking at, ‘here’s our data. What are we doing to move the student?” We’re having more of those discussions throughout the process rather than the just the start of the year and the end of the year.”
Flood said the evaluation process is more holistic and places greater emphasis on the process rather than end-of-the-year results. The introduction of more clearly defined measurements to the evaluation rubric will also give teachers a more accurate depiction of where they succeed and where they need to improve, said Brian Knight, the education program coordinator for Constellation Schools.
“I think one of the big issues was it was really easy for the evaluator to make the decision on how the teacher was performing. Whereas the pilot that we are participating in actually has data attached to it,” Knight said. “How can you broaden yourself as an educator? How can you strengthen yourself as an educator to hit certain things outside of your comfort zone?”
Educators will be scored on various metrics and will be rated as ‘ineffective' on the lowest end to ‘distinguished' on the highest end. Under the previous system, more teachers were rated as distinguished than the architects of the system had intended. The subjectivity of the outdated system was a factor in that, officials said.
“We evaluate our teachers both within our observations and also with their academic growth. Teachers want to be great. They want to do well and this gives them something to strive for,” Flood said. “We don’t want to make it too complicated for our teachers in that way but I think anyone in any profession wants to know what they are doing well and what they need to work on.”
Under the new system, highly-rated teachers would have to undergo more infrequent evaluations whereas poorly rated teachers will be evaluated more. Teachers rated as developing, skilled or accomplished would need to develop personal growth plans. Teachers rated as ineffective would be required to develop an improvement plan.
As for what pieces of data that will be factored into a teacher’s evaluation, Knight said each local district will have the autonomy to make that decision so long as it is within state guidelines.
“It’s very important. The district decides what curriculum they need to use to accomplish what they want to accomplish within the Ohio learning standards,” Knight said. “Taking [the state] materials and being able to apply it directly will help versus the state saying, ‘this is the state test we’re going to use. This is what we’re going to use as part of your data. You decide what percentage.’”
The State Board of Education will hold a hearing next week to discuss the new evaluation system. Under state law, the new framework must be implemented by May 1.