by John Moran
It’s a common problem shared by nearly every employer in Pennsylvania: finding workers with the skill sets and education needed to be “work ready” the day they are hired.
This dilemma costs employers valuable resources, time and lost man hours as too many new hires require remedial training before they can start being productive workers.
More students graduating with the skills they need to succeed at work and in life will not only contribute to the success of businesses and the state’s economy, but will provide our children the opportunity to achieve a standard of living we all deserve.
That’s why Team Pennsylvania Foundation worked with the Corbett administration to implement a new teacher evaluation system.
Team PA backed this initiative because we know it is in the best interest of our number one asset: our children.
Vast volumes of research show that the number one indicator of a student’s success in school is the quality of the teacher in front of the classroom. Every child has the right to receive a world-class education, and our strong belief in that principle guided our involvement in crafting a teacher evaluation system that raises rigor in our classrooms.
The overhaul of the outdated teacher evaluation system in Pennsylvania should come as welcome news to parents, taxpayers, business owners, educators and the students they teach.
Assessing teachers by a more meaningful evaluation process will allow administrators to recognize those teachers doing a good job while identifying, providing resources and supporting those who need to improve. This, in turn, will benefit students as they receive the kind of education that will better prepare them for life after high school.
Over the past two years, Team PA and the Pennsylvania Department of Education ran pilot programs that engaged teachers and administrators to ensure the new evaluation system achieves that goal. Teacher and administrator feedback was critical to assisting in the refinement and implementation of the pilot programs.
Educator feedback and discussions within the Steering Committee also led to support from all stakeholders, which was an essential component in overhauling the antiquated system that simply rated teachers as “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”
Team PA coordinated this teacher evaluation committee whose diverse representation included teachers and administrators as well as union and PDE representatives. The group developed a set of principles showing that there is strong agreement on the direction that Pennsylvania should move in evaluating its teachers.
One key area that the group emphasized is that relying solely on test scores is not an effective measure of quality teaching. Multiple measures of student learning provide a much richer understanding of teacher effectiveness.
Student performance now will make up 50 percent of the educator’s overall evaluation score. It will be calculated using data from statewide assessments, student growth data and multiple measures of student performance. The other 50 percent will be based on teacher observation.
The new evaluation system also expands the current rating scale, increasing the number of possible rating categories from two to four. Observed educators would be assigned a rating of distinguished, proficient, needs improvement or failing.
Pennsylvania is headed in the right direction with the passage of this new law. It has collaboratively and systematically put in place the elements necessary to effectively evaluate teachers.
Pennsylvania, as well as much of our nation, has fallen behind other countries in the education of our children. The creation of a new evaluation system is a positive step to help ensure our children receive the education they deserve.
Team PA thanks the Corbett administration, state legislators, PDE, the Teacher Evaluation Steering Committee, pilot districts and all of the teachers and administrators who participated in the pilot programs, our Foundation Board of Directors and stakeholders who helped make this much-needed reform a reality.
John Moran is the President & CEO of Watsontown-based Moran Industries and co-chair of the board of directors at Team Pennsylvania Foundation.