As part of the focus by the ALSDE on creating a teacher accountability measure that isn’t a punitive, “gotcha!” approach, the educator effectiveness model is a breath of fresh air as it relates to measuring teacher effectiveness. Rather than a top-down approach, the teacher effectiveness framework involves local school district leadership, administrators, and teachers collaborating to help create a model that is unique to the district at a local level, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. While accountability is a necessary and important piece of the puzzle, the way in which accountability is created and measured is critical in helping to paint a true picture of what teachers do. Research is clear—without effective teachers, student achievement suffers.
As Rick DuFour and Bob Eaker pointedly state, “schools are effective because of their teachers” (1998, p. 206). Given this reality, it is imperative that teacher effectiveness be measured in a way that is clear, concise, and valid. The educator effectiveness framework is a step in the right direction. It focuses on local collaboration, buy-in, commitment, and of course, research-based practices and student outcomes.
At the local level, the effectiveness framework can be rolled out and communicated to faculty in a variety of methods to best meet the needs at the local level. There is no “you have to do it this way” approach, although it is important that the framework be communicated effectively and that there are structures in place to be sure that clarity exists for teachers and administrators.
In Marshall County, the process is underway, and early comments have been positive. Teachers are less anxious because they know exactly what indicators and “look-fors” exist, and what practices are considered as “exemplary, effective, developing, or requiring action.” Rubrics provide details as to both what teachers and students are doing, and administrators are clear on what constitutes each level of effectiveness. As a whole, accountability is a critical part of the learning process. As effective practitioners, we should consider accountability not as a dirty word–but as an avenue to improve our craft in the continuous improvement process.