Jan 14, 2013

Adjustments Would Increase Clarity and Feedback for Teachers

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Department of Education today released a set of proposed adjustments to the Compass system that will increase professional development and support of educators statewide. These enhancements will provide teachers with more feedback on their performance and will increase clarity around end-of-year evaluation results. The improvements are the result of input from principals and teachers across the state, gathered through nine months of intensive training, dozens of town halls, and meetings of advisory panels. To review the proposed adjustments, please click here for a PowerPoint presentation or here for a YouTube video.

The Department will present the proposed changes to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) at the board’s January 15 and 16 meetings. The changes are part of the Department’s 2013 Academic Strategy; future announcements will include plans for adjustments to student assessment, curriculum, and professional development.

Compass was created by Act 54 of the 2010 Regular Legislative Session in order to provide teachers more feedback on their job performance. At the time, more than 98 percent of teachers received the same rating of “satisfactory.” The system was developed by a committee of educators, union leaders, and policymakers in 2011 and was piloted by ten districts in the 2011-2012 school year. The 2012-2013 year marks its first year of full implementation statewide. Half of a teacher’s evaluation will be based on how much a student learned from one year to the next, and half of the evaluation will be based on observations by principals and administrators.

“Compass is an important tool in improving outcomes for our students,” said State Superintendent John White. “At the same time, there are adjustments we can make to ensure that the system is the best professional development tool available. We are very grateful to the teachers, principals, and superintendents who provided valuable input during this process.”

"We will continue working to make sure Compass helps ensure the highest quality teacher in every classroom while simultaneously supporting continued teacher improvement, development, and growth," said Chas Roemer, president-elect of BESE. "Like any new system, we expect to discover areas for improvement."

In the semester of implementing the Compass educator evaluation system statewide, approximately 6,000 evaluators have been trained, more than 75,000 Student Learning Targets (SLTs) have been written, and more than 10,000 official observations have been recorded.  In each district, Department Network Teams are supporting educators in using the tool. These Networks serve as the primary vehicle for providing in-depth support to districts as they adopt Compass for the first time. Additionally, extensive training for the specific components of Compass has been provided to district administrators, principals, and teachers statewide.

The Department’s focus on outreach is an aspect of Louisiana Believes, the state’s comprehensive plan for continued improvement in education that is based on the belief that all students should be on track to college or career and that parents and educators, not bureaucrats, should be empowered to make decisions to support students.

Senator Conrad Appel, Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said, "The goal of our legislation was simple, the children of Louisiana deserve the opportunity for the best educational experience possible. This goal will be attainable only through a meaningful partnership with our educators and principals. The refinements proposed by the DOE today will go a long way toward integrating educator input into what has become a nationally recognized example of what a high quality educational delivery system should be."

Chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, Representative Steve Carter said, “We’ve said all along that we value teacher feedback and would make any adjustments necessary to the evaluation system to make it as fair and useful as possible. The changes recommended by the Department will make a good tool even stronger, moving our state farther ahead in making sure that every child is taught by an effective teacher.”

Daniel Weisberg, Executive Vice President & General Counsel Performance Management, at The New Teacher Project said, “TNTP applauds the Louisiana Department of Education’s leadership on the issue of educator effectiveness and its willingness to use educator feedback to continually refine and strengthen its policies.”

Proposed adjustments to Compass will increase the amount of feedback educators receive and the clarity with which they can understand the system’s standards. The improvements focus on three main areas:

  1. Setting student achievement goals early in the year
    - Provide educators with more student-level data for goal-setting.
            - Provide educators receiving value-added data with an expected progress target for
            every student early in the school year.
  2. Feedback on classroom practice throughout the year
            - Link Compass rubric descriptors to videos of classroom practice to help define levels
            of performance.
            - Provide greater guidance as to how the rubric applies in primary grades and for
            teachers of students with significant disabilities.
            - Tailor frequency of observations to needs of educators.
            - “Make the middle matter” for teachers scoring middle percentile on value-added by
            requiring principals to score the student learning (quantitative) section of the evaluation.
  3. End-of-year results
            - Provide educators with detailed reports of students’ expected and actual scores.
            - Allow for greater flexibility in assessing the performance of teachers of students in
            special circumstances, such as natural disaster.
            - Provide more room for growth with highest-performing students.
            - Ensure districts and schools rate performance consistently and rigorously.

“As a state, we are raising the expectations we have for our students and the expectations we have for ourselves as professionals,” said White.  “I know we will look back on this time with great pride, but I also know it’s not easy.  That’s why I am thankful the courage and commitment our educators show on a day to day basis to increase student achievement in our state.”

For the PowerPoint presentation on the proposed Compass adjustment, please click here and for a YouTube video click here

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