Delaware Still Leads National Pack Despite Mid-Course Corrections

January 30th, 2012

Category: News, Policy and Practice

Secretary Lowery recently announced changes to DPAS II for this year as well as highlighting that more changes are upcoming for the next school year – all of which will impact various decisions, including bonuses for “highly-effective” educators and tenure decisions.

For this school year, all teachers will be evaluated based upon Components I-IV, which will lead to summative ratings of either effective, needs improvement, or ineffective based upon the number of satisfactory components. While all teachers will receive a Component V rating, it will only be used to identify “highly-effective” teachers in DCAS tested subjects as described below.

Those teachers in DCAS subjects and grades (English Language Arts and Math and grades 3-10) will be eligible to receive “highly-effective” incentive/retention bonuses. These will be based on:

  • A school-wide assessment measure that takes the best result between four options (DCAS status or growth in either reading or math); and
  • A cohort assessment measure of those students the teacher is the classroom of record.

These changes reflect the work of over 400 teachers (and input from many more) from all types of classrooms, ranging from social studies to drivers’ education. This work continues to be undertaken due to the USED waiver that provided us an additional year to develop fair, valid, and comparable measures of student growth. And while we no doubt wish that all Delaware teachers had these in place this year, we recognize and understand the difficulty, and limits, of this work.

As we approach Race to the Top’s halfway point, taking a step back to reflect on our progress is refreshing – especially when you realize how much further ahead Delaware is compared to other states. We are one of only 12 states that utilize student achievement data as the preponderant criterion for teacher evaluation whereas over half of states don’t require student learning be incorporated at all. On top of that, other Race to the Top states, such as Georgia, North Carolina, and Rhode Island, don’t require non-tested subject teachers be judged based on their students’ mastery of the content they teach. And while DC IMPACT is often looked to as it has been in place longer than others’, non-tested subject assessment measures are not screened for rigor or comparability across the district.

So looking ahead, there is no doubt work to be done in this area, with other states helping us lead the charge to implement these as soon as they are ready to roll-out. And once these are complete, we will be able to utilize this information to inform reform efforts that parallel those in other states, such as ensuring equitable access to effective educators or holding preparation programs accountable for their graduates’ effectiveness. We applaud Delaware educators stepping up to the plate and helping drive national conversations on how we can better measure their impact on student learning – which will yield enormous dividends for our students and schools well into the future.

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Brett Turner



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