By Matthew Tungate
Teachers would be evaluated using student growth numbers and professional practice performance categories from Kentucky’s new Professional Growth and Effectiveness System (PGES) under a plan presented to the Kentucky Board of Education last week.
The presentation was the board’s first look at the proposed summative model for the PGES, a statewide system for teachers that is designed to be fair and equitable and uses multiple measures of effectiveness – student growth, professional growth and self-reflection, observation, and student voice – to help teachers identify their strengths and areas of need, and to provide them with resources for continuous improvement. Last year more than 50 districts participated in a field test of the system, and this year teachers from every district are participating in a statewide pilot.
Associate Commissioner Felicia Cumings Smith and Mary Ann Blankenship, executive director of the Kentucky Education Association and member of the teacher PGES steering committee, explained the two parts of the plan and how their relationship will affect personnel decisions for teachers.
The first is a performance rating of ineffective, developing, accomplished or exemplary in four domains – Planning and Preparation, Classroom Environment, Instruction and Professional Responsibilities – based on the multiple measures and other district-determined factors.
The second is student growth based on student growth percentiles from the K-PREP (Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress) tests and student growth goals established at the local level. Growth will be rated as high, moderate or low.
“So based on overall performance category and how growth is determined given particular cut points decisions will be made at the local level based on the matrix on next steps for the teacher on his or her growth-planning process,” Smith said.
How a teacher rates in each of the two areas will determine his or her improvement plan, how long it will run and whether it will be a reviewer-directed or self-directed plan. The options are:
- low growth and ineffective rating: up to a 12-month improvement plan with goals determined by an evaluator, focus on low-performance areas and another summative evaluation at the end of the plan
- low growth and developing rating: a one-year directed plan with goals and activities determined by the evaluator with input from the teacher, goals that focus on the low performance/outcome areas, a formative review annually and a summative review at the end of the plan
- low growth and accomplished or exemplary rating: a two-year self-directed plan with goals set by the teacher with evaluator input, one goal must focus on the low outcome area and an annual formative review
- expected or high growth and an ineffective rating: a one-year directed plan with goals determined by the evaluator and activities determined by the evaluator with input from the teacher, goals that focus on the low performance/outcome areas, a formative review annually, and a summative review at the end of the plan
- expected or high growth and a developing rating: a two-year self-directed plan with goals and activities set by the teacher with evaluator input, goals must focus on the low performance/outcome area and an annual formative review
- expected or high growth and an exemplary rating: a three-year self-directed plan with goals set by the teacher with evaluator approval, activities are directed by the teacher and implemented with colleagues, an annual formative review and a summative review at the end of the third year
Blankenship pointed out that the more highly rated a teacher is, the more he or she directs his or her own professional growth.
“But if there are problems identified either through the ratings on the framework or through their growth, then their plan becomes progressively more directed by the administration, and also the time gets more compressed,” she said. “So the teachers who appear to have the most issues have less time to improve and more direction as opposed to self-directing and having a longer timeframe.”
Smith said the system is intended to identify teachers who need more support and get them that support.
“It is an aggressive model,” she said.
The PGES is scheduled to be implemented in the 2014-15 school year without employment consequences and be used for personnel decisions the following year.
A steering committee made up of teachers and other education stakeholders is expected to meet soon to decide on whether to recommend the Kentucky Board of Education adopt the summative model, which is based on one used in Massachusetts. The board will hear first reading of a regulation to that effect at its February meeting.
The board also heard plans to merge the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program (KTIP) and the PGES.
“The goal is to ensure the Teacher Performance Assessment components of KTIP mirror the requirements of PGES,” according to a report from Robert Brown, director of the Education Professional Standards Board.“This merger will allow interns to participate in both systems without the need to complete two sets of requirements.”
The new KTIP will be piloted in a few districts during the 2014-15 school year, and will be used statewide in 2015-16, he said. The work is being guided by the Kentucky Advisory Council for Internship (KACI), which includes representatives from colleges and universities across the state; public and private school employees, including teachers, principals, superintendents, and district KTIP coordinators; and agency representatives, including KDE, KEA, and educational cooperatives. Brown said training will be provided before the new system launches in fall, 2015.
Also at last week’s meeting Commissioner Terry Holliday warned of teacher layoffs and an increase in the number of school districts that will fail financially if state legislators do not restore funding during the 2014 General Assembly.
Kentucky has lost an equivalent of 1,800 full-time teachers and expects to lose another 1,500-2,000 more teachers or teacher assistants, he said.
“These are real people, real layoffs, and they can’t continue,” Holliday said. “We are losing our most important resource – our classroom teachers.”
The board addressed the issue of school finances by making funding its top priority in the final legislative agenda for the General Assembly beginning in January. In the 2014-16 biennial budget, the board is asking the legislature to:
- restore Support Education Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK) funding to 2009 levels, raising per pupil funding from $3,827 to $3,866
- restore Flexible Focus Funds for professional development, safe schools, extended school services, textbooks and preschool to 2008 levels
- provide technology funding to increase bandwidth and pay back a bond that would support district replacement of computers and/or mobile devices with up-to-date instructional devices
- provide funding that would expand career opportunities and technical skills attainment for high school students in support of college/career-readiness
- support district turnaround efforts that would assist schools, especially persistently low-achieving schools and districts in need of improvement and turnaround
- provide funding for capital projects at the Kentucky School for the Blind, the Kentucky School for the Deaf, a maintenance pool and $50 million Instructional Device Replacement Bond
The board also approved 2013-14 local district working budgets and tax rates levied. This year, 93 of 173 districts levied an optional 4 percent tax rate to make up for a lack of state funding, but Holliday said this has created inequities in funding among districts.
“There is currently an $11,000 gap in per pupil spending between the highest and lowest districts,” he said.
In other business, the board:
- placed the Fleming County school district under state assistance based on results of a management audit that showed “a significant lack of effectiveness and efficiency” in multiple areas including financial management
- approved the statement of consideration for 704 KAR 3:305, Minimum Requirements for High School Graduation
- approved 703 KAR 5:080, Administration Code for Kentucky’s Assessment Program
- approved 703 KAR 5:070, Procedures for the Inclusion of Special Populations in the State-Required Assessment and Accountability Programs
- approved restoration of school-based decision making (SBDM) authority to Highland-Turner Elementary (Breathitt Co.), Trapp Elementary (Clark Co.), Deer Park Elementary (Daviess Co.) and Horse Branch Elementary (Ohio Co.)
- heard first reading of 702 KAR 3:300, Approval for school district lease and retirement incentive annuity agreements
- approved the appointments of Wendy M. King, a teacher at Mount Vernon Elementary in Rockcastle County, and Patti J. Bowman, a parent from London, to the State Textbook Commission
- approved the appointment of Mike Flynn, a community business person, to the Kentucky School for the Blind Advisory Board
- approved Holliday’s evaluation document along with review of the commissioner’s goals for 2013-14
The next regular meeting of the Kentucky Board of Education is scheduled for Feb. 5, 2014, in Frankfort.