NHPS successfully implements year two of TEVAL

Oct. 9, 2012
Abbe Smith
NHPS Director of Communications
203-497-7015, 203-676-0463 (cell)
The New Haven Public Schools successfully implemented year two of its groundbreaking teacher evaluation system, achieving more progress toward its goal of improving every school in the district and affording all students the best education possible.
For a second year in a row, the top-to-bottom evaluation and development process concluded with a significant majority of teachers and administrators earning ratings of “effective” or better. In a sign that the system’s commitment to providing training and development for teachers who need help is working, 20 of the teachers who were initially flagged as being at risk for dismissal improved their game and finished the year with a higher rating. Also noteworthy is the positive trend of teacher and administrator satisfaction in the evaluation process.
Born out of the landmark 2009 teachers’ contract that paved the way for School Change, the evaluation system rewards top-performing teachers, identifies and supports teachers who need help and removes teachers who consistently fail to provide quality instruction in the classroom. The new evaluation system has earned praise from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten and the New York Times.
At the end of last school year and over the summer, 1,457 teachers, 90 principals and assistant principals and 24 Central Office administrators were awarded one of five ratings ranging from “needs improvement” to “exemplary.”  Of the teachers, 90 percent scored in the top three rankings, “exemplary,” “strong,” or “effective.” Among administrators, 84 percent received one of the top three ratings. For the first time, the district used the new evaluation system to rate Central Office administrators, which resulted in 84 percent receiving the top three ratings.
At the end of the process, 13 percent of teachers had a top rating of “exemplary,” up from eight percent last year. Teachers rated as exemplary will be recognized for their excellence and will have the opportunity to serve as educational leaders in their schools and in the district.

“In year two of implementation, TEVAL continues to be a recognition that identifying, developing and retaining talented educators is vital to the success of New Haven School Change,” said Mayor John DeStefano Jr. “The $53.8 million federal Teacher Incentive Fund grant is the greatest federal recognition of New Haven School Change to date and will be a game changer for the district's ability to further support top teaching talent.”
“The job of turning around schools and raising academic achievement is a complex one and our teachers and administrators have met that challenge with passion,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Reginald Mayo. “I am pleased that our teachers improved their classroom instruction and earned better ratings. These evaluation results underscore the commitment by both teachers and administrators to demanding nothing short of the best for our kids.”

Through the course of the year, the district considered 58 teachers, including tenured and untenured, for termination because of potential low ratings. The system provided those teachers with intensive support and training to improve their performance. Five teachers improved significantly, going from “needs improvement” to “effective” and 15 improved to “developing”.
At the end of the year, 28 teachers who failed to improve their performance even after intensive support and training parted with the district voluntarily, either retiring or resigning. That represents about 1.9 percent of teachers in the district. Of the teachers who left as a result of poor evaluations, 17 were tenured and 11 were untenured. Similarly, the district separated from three principals related to their performance on the evaluation.
All teachers in danger of termination had independent validators agreed upon by the district and the teachers union, one of the evaluation system’s groundbreaking features. The district also tracks the input of teachers on the effectiveness of evaluations and quality of feedback: More than 50 percent of teachers say they get good feedback at 23 schools, and more than 75 percent get good feedback at 17 schools.
The district’s progressive evaluation system and the hard work of our teachers played a large role in New Haven’s winning of a highly competitive $53.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education last month. The grant will fund the New Haven Professional Educator Program, an initiative that aims to develop, support and retain great teachers and administrators. Through that initiative, the district also will be taking on the challenge of strengthening the evaluation and development program.
“Most educators are in this career because they want to help kids and are profoundly dedicated to their students’ success,” said Garth Harries, Assistant Superintendent for Portfolio and Performance Management. “We are very proud that we invented an evaluation process that supports educators as they strive for classroom excellence. Now with the Obama administration’s support for our Professional Educator Program, we will be able to help our teachers take their career and the learning experience of their students to the next level.”
Teacher and principal satisfaction with the evaluation process has improved over the past three years, according to survey results, but there remains significant work to be done to strengthen teacher experience with the process. Among teachers, 50 percent were satisfied with the process last year and only 25 percent dissatisfied, reflecting a steady positive trend since 2009.
Last year, 76 percent of principals and assistant principals felt the evaluation process helps teachers improve their classroom instruction by providing specific and useful feedback. Sixty-one percent felt the evaluation process identifies and offers concrete steps to remedy poor performance.