Changing the way teachers are evaluated

Ohio is making changes to the way it evaluates the performance of its teachers. Ohio’s Teacher Evaluation System (OTES) is intended to provide a richer, more detailed view of teacher performance, with a focus on specific strengths and opportunities for improvement. While the OTES presents big changes for teachers, students, and administrators, our support for our teachers and commitment to our students remain the same.

What is the OTES?

The OTES is designed to create a standards-based definition of teacher effectiveness. It was developed collaboratively by a group of teachers, administrators, higher education faculty, and representatives from Ohio’s professional associations. The group also worked with national experts in the area of teacher evaluations and studied other evaluation systems across the country to craft a standards-based definition of teacher effectiveness. Using the Ohio Standards for the Teaching Profession as their foundation, the writing team developed the rubric, or written criteria, for the OTES.

How will the OTES change teacher evaluations the Wapakoneta City Schools?

Until now, teacher evaluations have mostly been based on a local principal or another administrator observing a teacher. Under OTES, teacher evaluations will have two components, each weighted at 50 percent:

• Teacher performance ratings, determined from a written professional growth plan, two 30 minute observations, and walkthroughs; and
• A variety of student academic growth ratings designed to measure how much students have learned over the course of the year.

Based on the evaluation, teachers will receive one of four ratings: accomplished, skilled, developing, or ineffective. The state created system proposes that a very minimal amount of teachers will be able to achieve a rating of accomplished. Yet for the first time in Ohio history, teacher evaluation ratings will be reported to the Ohio Department of Education.

What does this mean for our Wapakoneta City School community?

The OTES brings change for teachers, students, and administrators in Ohio and for Wapakoneta City Schools starting next school year.

Teachers will complete either a professional growth plan or an improvement plan at the beginning of the school year. All teachers will be evaluated in the classroom through two formal observations and a series of short, informal observations called walkthroughs. Mid-year progress checks and end-of-year evaluations will round out the process for teachers.

Students have already seen additional testing to accommodate the need to measure student growth for the OTES. The challenge for measuring student growth is that there is not a single student assessment that can be used for all teachers. Data from the state Ohio Achievement Assessments will be used when available. Next year, some student growth measures for teacher evaluations will be generated from the new PARCC testing system. For subjects where traditional assessments are not an option (such as music or art), we will establish our own assessments to measure student progress.  As a result, students will be tested more next year than any other time in Ohio’s educational history.

Principals and other administrators who become credentialed OTES evaluators will need to devote a considerable amount of time to completing the evaluation process. The Buckeye Association of School Administrators is estimating an average of six to seven hours to evaluate a single teacher.   Small local schools estimate between 5 and 7 weeks of their principals’ job responsibilities over the course of a school year are now fully dedicated to implementing the state required teacher evaluation system.

Why is the state making this change?

A variety of state and federal mandates and policies are behind these changes in our community and state. In 2009, House Bill 1 directed the state’s Educator Standards Board to develop a new and “improved” way to evaluate Ohio’s teachers. The 2011 state budget required Ohio’s Board of Education to approve an evaluation system outline by the end of 2011, with a requirement that at least 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation must be based on students’ academic growth. Changes to teacher (and principal) evaluation systems were also part of the reason Ohio received a $400 million federal Race to the Top grant. Ohio also had to commit to changes in its teacher evaluation system in order to get a waiver from the federal government for some parts of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Our state has seen an unprecedented number of changes to educational practices recently, including new and increased testing for our students, a new local report card, and now a new teacher and principal evaluation system. While so much change can be difficult to process, I am committed to working with you and with the dedicated teachers in our local schools to meet these challenges. While we may be making changes to the way we evaluate our teachers, the passion and dedication the teachers in our district bring to the classroom remains the same. Together, we remain committed to providing the students in our community with the tools they need to succeed. I look forward to supporting our teachers as we meet this latest challenge together.

— Keith Horner,
Wapakoneta City Schools