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.
Both common sense and empiracle evidence suggest that these initiatives should work together; the Common Core provides adopting states with the depth and rigor necessary for students to graduate ready for college and the workforce, and the emphasis on teacher observation and evaluation ensures all students are getting high-quality instruction.
But of course it hasn't been that simple for most district and school leaders, which is why we committed to learning more.
Together with the U.S. Department of Education's Reform Support Network, Insight’s Dr. Richard Nyankori, Maureen Kay Sigler and I reviewed observation frameworks against the CCSS, identifying and discussing inherent 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 the key considerations for successful implementation of both reforms.
Issue: 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 often contain redundancies and are riddled with jargon.
Recommendation: Designers should work to reduce framework and rubric complexity, using clear meaningful practice-focused language aligned to CCSS.
Issue: The length of some rubrics and frameworks make them difficult to use.
Recommendation: While developers should consider streamlining them, they must take care to ensure that the language of streamlined instruments does not become so vague that it fails to illustrate best practices.
Issue: Almost all frameworks and rubrics focus on teacher, not student, behaviors or outputs.
Recommendation: 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.
Though the alignment and implementation of the CCSS and teacher evaluation reforms will likely not be easy nor quick, there is evidence of great promise in the frameworks we reviewed and potential for growth in every school.