Curriculum Spotlight

Educator Appraisal in District 90

A representative team of District 90 educators, comprised of classroom teachers, specialists, special area teachers, and administrators, has embarked on a process to design a new system for more effectively appraising the District's educators. This Design Team plans to roll out a new Educator Appraisal system that will be tailored to the unique needs of District 90 at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year. The team is working to create an Educator Appraisal system that represents the collaborative, dynamic, and complex work of educating children effectively.

Recent legislation, known as the Performance Evaluation Review Act (PERA), requires school districts to develop a local plan for effectively evaluating/appraising educators. PERA requires that the plans incorporate the professional practices of educating children and the evidence of student learning and growth. A representative committee will later develop the "student growth" component that is legislatively mandated to be part of this plan by 2016-2017.

The Educator Appraisal Design Team is being guided by the work of additional colleagues who serve as members of the District 90 Superintendent's Leadership Council. The team has been facilitated through this work by education experts from the Consortium for Educational Change, a nonprofit organization affiliated with the Illinois Education Association that works with teachers, school and district administrators, school boards, and unions to improve student learning and achievement.

The focus of this process is to create a tool that is meaningful, manageable, and delivers a system promoting professional growth for our educators. It is based on a structure that promotes key elements that are  representative of the performance of educators at the highest levels. These underpinnings of the system incorporate the values of equity, cultural competence, high expectations, developmental appropriateness, attention to individuals, appropriate use of technology, and a student assumption of responsibility.

The appraisal tool that District 90 is using is one developed by Charlotte Danielson, a well-respected educator and researcher who has developed a highly- regarded system based on years of examining the elements that lead to effective teaching. The model she developed is known as the Framework for Teaching, with a related Framework for (educational) Specialists. The Framework for Teaching incorporates four domains that effective educators regularly address, often referred to as what teachers do "on stage" (in front of a class) and what they do "off stage" (away from a class). It takes a significant amount of planning and preparation to create meaningful, effective, successful, student-centered opportunities during actual class time (on stage). The four key areas that the Framework for Teaching focuses on are:

  • Planning and Preparation
  • Instruction/Delivery of Service (for specialists such as a school social worker, librarian, speech/language pathologist)
  • Learning Environment
  • Professional Responsibilities

The system is not about a particular style or method of teaching. It is intended to support the key building blocks of high-quality instruction, regardless of the instructional approach, and to develop the best in educators. The tool provides a way for all educators, from novice to highly-experienced educators, to continually find new ways, new areas of focus, and meaningful goals to continue to improve the art and science of being an excellent educator.

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