Preparing for Federal Flexibility in Teacher Evaluation Systems Implementation

Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Deborah Delisle recently wrote to every state education commissioner seeking input on ways the Department of Education can offer additional flexibility in implementing teacher evaluation systems. You can see the full text of her letter here.

As AFT President Randi Weingarten said, “The Department of Education has listened to responses from the AFT, the NEA, and educators and parents across the country concerning high-stakes testing and its impact on virtually every aspect of public education.” Read the rest of her statement here.

Tremendous advocacy undertaken by our members across the country helped persuade the department to offer more flexibility in this area. To jump-start your efforts to seize this opportunity, we’ve compiled 10 ideas to get you started:

  1. Educate your members about the new opportunity for flexibility on teacher evaluation in the state's ESEA waiver and about the input-gathering process.
  2. Contact your state department of education and make sure it is aggressively following up with U.S. Department of Education and the CCSSO.
  3. Encourage your state chief to include union representatives on the calls or interactions with the Department of Education.
  4. Work together with groups representing principals on your advocacy for high-quality educator evaluation systems; principals’ evaluation systems are also under review.
  5. Create a list of priority items to include in the new flexibility policy on teacher evaluation and send it to state representatives in preparation for your meetings and discussions.
  6. Consider specific suggestions most relevant to improving both the evaluation system and mutual trust in the system and stakeholders, such as:

  7. • Substituting local tests for state tests;
    • Lowering the percentage of the evaluation score based on tests;
    • Improving training in classroom observation for evaluators;
    • Increasing focus on meaningful feedback and continuous improvement; and
    • Building transparency in system design, training and implementation.

  11. Unions represented on district evaluation committees should jointly create the list of items for the new flexibility.
  12. Remember the key role of the legislature in many states in determining evaluation policy; follow up with meetings and calls with state representatives to discuss what flexibility is most needed in your state and community.
  13. Assign people to follow the entire flexibility and waiver process and report back regularly to the union and other stakeholders on progress.
  14. Ask AFT educational issues and legislation department staff for information that will help support the specifics of your flexibility proposals.