MTA responds to release of educator evaluation data

The vast majority of teachers and administrators in 213 Race to the Top Districts received positive evaluations last spring, according to data released on November 21 by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Ninety-two percent of teachers and 97 percent of principals were rated “Proficient” or “Exemplary” in the first round of the new system.

Under state regulations and law, at least 50 percent of educators in Race to the Top Districts had to be evaluated by last spring and aggregated data about the ratings had to be released for schools and districts. The non-RTTT districts have to evaluate at least half of their educators this school year.

MTA President Paul Toner said MTA worked closely with DESE to make sure the new regulations clearly prohibit the release of any evaluation information that can be linked to an individual educator.

Following release of the data, Toner released the following statement:

“It is clear that educators are taking the new evaluation regulations seriously and are working hard to implement a more thorough, educator-driven system. This is a significant improvement from past practice, when too often formal evaluations were perfunctory, superficial, unsupported or not done at all.

“Today’s results are consistent with what we have known all along: The vast majority of educators in this state are performing at high levels. We urge districts to provide needed professional development and support to any educators who received less than a ‘Proficient’ rating.

“The purpose of this new system is to help identify educators’ strengths and weaknesses to improve teaching and learning in our schools. We strongly advise the media and the public not to draw conclusions about relative school quality based on the distribution of evaluation ratings from one school or one district to the next. That would be a misuse of these results. As the Educator Evaluation Data Advisory Task Force noted, ‘The distribution of ratings in a district or school may reflect workforce composition, local priorities or other issues and should be considered with that perspective.’

“Just as some teachers are harder graders than others, it is inevitable that some administrators will reach different conclusions than other administrators would based on the local context and their own professional judgment. Any rank ordering of schools or districts based on these evaluation results would be inappropriate and misleading to parents and policymakers and would be a disservice to students and the educators who teach them.

“We look forward to continuing to work with our local associations to implement local evaluation systems that are fair and effective at improving teaching and learning in our schools – schools that continue to be the highest performing in the country and among the best in the world.”

Click here for MTA’s Toolkit on Educator Evaluation.