The implementation of more rigorous teacher evaluation systems and Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are major priorities - and major painpoints - for many district and school leaders.
There's also good reason to suggest that these initiatives should work together - the Common Core State Standards were designed to provide adopting states with the depth and rigor necessary for students to graduate ready for college and the workforce, and effective teacher observation and evaluation can ensure all students are getting the best instruction.
But of course it isn't that simple, which is why we committed to digging deeper.
Together with the U.S. Department of Education's Reform Support Network and members of participating districts, a team of us from Insight reviewed observation frameworks against the CCSS, identifying and discussing both the challenges and opportunities of aligning systems.
The report released in March 2014, Aligning College- and Career-Ready Standards with Instructional Frameworks and Rubrics, outlines our analysis of eight instructional observation frameworks, including the Insight Core Framework, and considerations for successful implementation of both reforms.
Here are some of our key findings and considerations that school leaders need to know when it comes to CCSS and educator effectiveness:
1. Frameworks and rubrics, both new and revised, are extremely complex.
Often, designers simply pile CCSS ideas on top of pre-existing material.The tools also frequently contain redundancies and are riddled with jargon. Designers should work to reduce framework and rubric complexity, using clear and meaningful practice-focused language aligned to CCSS.
2. The length of some rubrics and frameworks make them difficult to use.
While developers should consider streamlining, they must take care to ensure that the language of condensed instruments does not become so vague that it fails to illustrate best practices.
3. Almost all frameworks and rubrics focus on teacher, not student, actions.
Regardless of the approach, designers and users should be able to articulate how student outcomes drive decisions about what is and is not included in the rubric.