Delaware’s Teacher Quality Initiatives Continue to Rollout

May 17th, 2012

Category: News

May 18 update: Districts and schools that meet the qualifying criteria are currently in the process of deciding whether to opt-in to the talent rentention/attraction initiative. For a list of eligible schools, click here.

The Delaware Department of Education recently announced eligible school participants for the talent retention/attraction initiative, demonstrating Delaware’s continued commitment to follow through with our Race to the Top promises.

The talent retention/attraction initiative, which is meant to help schools that educate traditionally underserved students, will initially focus on 30 schools throughout the state based on the following criteria:

  • Participant in Delaware’s Partnership Zone initiative;
  • Appearance in the “top 15” on at least two of three statewide categories, which include (1) percent minority students, (2) percent free-and-reduced price lunch students, and (3) English language learners; or
  • A school with 85 percent in any of those three categories—that was not selected.

District and charter school leadership will be given the responsibility of choosing whether or not to opt-in to these critical efforts, which connect with the current DPAS II work. We are currently in an “interim” year where all teachers will be evaluated based upon Components I-IV, leading to summative ratings of either effective, needs improvement, or ineffective. While all teachers will receive a Component V rating, it will only be used to identify “highly-effective” teachers in DCAS tested subjects (which are the educators eligible for the rewards listed above).

To open up these incentives to all educators throughout the state, 600 educators in groups across a range of grades and subjects are working tirelessly to develop fair, valid, and comparable measures of growth. These measures, once approved, will be utilized during the 2012-1013 for all educators – enabling us to better understand all teachers’ impact on student learning. This work involves describing the standards and their rationale, detailing the establishment of specific student growth goals tied to those standards, and establishing guidelines and procedures for educators to determine student learning on both state and district-level assessments. As an example, kindergarten students are required to know and apply phonics and word analysis skills to decode words. In order to determine growth, teachers will initially measure the number of students that can read a certain number of sight words in September and compare that to their goal of the percent increase of students that do so the following May.  

Stepping back at Race to the Top’s (almost) halfway point, it’s refreshing to see how much progress we’ve made. As one of only 12 states that use student achievement data as the preponderant criterion for teacher evaluation (over half of states don’t require student learning be incorporated at all), we are definitely on the cutting edge of our nation’s critical work – which will only be strengthened as we continue to build understanding and buy-in for these efforts.

Looking ahead, we are no doubt still in the beginning stages of this work (along with other leading reform states). Once these are complete, we’ll be able to expand upon our efforts by 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 measure their impact on student learning – which will yield significant dividends into the future.

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Brett Turner



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