Massachusetts has developed an evaluation framework that has as its primary function continuous improvement of the teaching profession. The goal of better teaching is improved student learning. The MTA worked collaboratively with other education groups and state education policymakers to develop a system that requires educators to reflect on their teaching and set professional and student learning goals. This system is designed to provide educators with meaningful feedback to help them improve their teaching.
The Massachusetts evaluation framework wisely avoided using standardized test scores and other measures of student performance in a high-stakes manner. No personnel decisions are made based on students' test scores or other measures of student performance. Instead, information about student growth may be used to help inform a teacher’s professional and student learning goals; create a professional development plan; and possibly determine the length of an educator’s growth plan.
In Massachusetts, the evaluation system uses two sets of measures — a Summative Performance Rating and an Impact on Student Learning Rating.
(1) Summative Performance Rating. All educators must receive an SPR every one or two years, depending on their length of service and what kind of Educator Plan they are on. The ratings are designated Exemplary, Proficient, Needs Improvement or Unsatisfactory. Proficient is the goal. This rating is derived from a variety of measures of educator practice, including announced and unannounced observations, a review of artifacts of instruction such as unit plans, and an analysis of progress toward meeting student learning goals. These goals are to be jointly developed by the educator and his or her supervisor and are specific to the grade, subject and classes taught or professional domain — such as student use of multimedia resources for a librarian.
How this rating is used. The Summative Performance Rating determines the type of Educator Plan: Self-Directed Growth, Directed Growth or Improvement. (Note: All educators without Professional Teacher Status and all administrators in their first three years are automatically on a Developing Educator Plan.)
(2) Impact on Student Learning Rating. Districts are still developing the measures to be used for the ISLR and are bargaining over implementation. According to state regulations, an educator’s ISLR will be derived from trends (at least two years) and patterns (at least two measures) in student growth. These data, analyzed using professional judgment taking the education context into consideration, will result in a rating of High, Moderate or Low. Where available, one of the measures must be based on a statewide assessment, such as MCAS Student Growth Percentile data in one subject. The other measure(s) must assess growth on District-Determined Measures. DDMs may be teacher-developed tests, portfolios, performance assessments, textbook-based assessments or other locally developed or selected measures. They must be comparable across the grade and subject throughout the district.
How this rating is used. This rating is used to help determine the length and content of the Educator Plan. It is not to be used to determine an educator’s Summative Performance Rating. Specifically, an educator rated Exemplary or Proficient will be on a one-year Self-Directed Plan if the ISLR is Low and will be on a two-year Self-Directed Plan if it is Moderate or High. Educators who are rated Needs Improvement will be on a Directed Growth Plan of up to one year and those rated Unsatisfactory will be on an Improvement Plan of up one year regardless of the ISLR. For all educators, the ISLR may — along with the results of the summative evaluation — help determine professional development or other requirements contained in the Educator Plan.