East Hampton’s Assistant Superintendent Robert Tymann offered an outline on the mandated Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) at Tuesday night's board meeting. The APPR is part of President Obama’s national educational initiative, Race to the Top, and the teacher evaluation rubric used by the district offers quantitative ways for instructors to improve.
The rubric is known as the Danielson rubric after Charlotte Danielson, an internationally recognized expert on teacher effectiveness. It offers four different evaluative domains in which administrators objectively gather evidence while observing teachers in the classroom: Planning and Preparation, Classroom Environment, Instruction, and Professional Responsibilities.
Each tenured teacher in the district is observed twice a year by an administrator – once with prior notice and once without. Untenured instructors are reviewed three times a year. In categories like Managing Classroom Procedures, Engaging Students in Learning, Maintaining Accurate Records, and Showing Professionalism, the instructor can receive an I for Ineffective, D for Developing, E for Effective, and H for Highly Effective.
This fundamental change in the way observations are done now creates meaningful dialogue between administrators and teachers about student learning and teacher professional growth. No longer can subjective comments be used.
“It’s really based on objective observation now,” Mr. Tymann said. “It used to be I might write, ‘The students are engaged.’ I now have to say how. If there are 27 kids in the class, I would say ’25 of the 27 students are writing in their notebooks.’ It just defines everything in a more cohesive way.”
After the evaluation, the administrator enters the information into a web-based software system. East Hampton uses Right Reason Technologies. The evaluations count toward 60 percent of the APPR, the 40 percent coming from student assessments.
At the board meeting, Mr. Tymann offered to use an example – Middle School science teacher Chris Merkert’s evaluation. Mr. Merkert, who was present at the meeting, has recently been nominated for the President’s Award of Excellence in Teaching. Needless to say, he received high marks.
But it wasn’t all As for Mr. Merkert. There were a couple of areas where Mr. Tymann pointed out that there was room for improvement. “I really welcomed the comments,” Mr. Merkert said of his post-evaluation discussion with Mr. Tymann. “It showed quantitative ways, very specifically, where I could improve.”
Mr. Tymann said the teachers in the district have been open to the idea of improvement, and his discussions with them “have been one of the highlights of my professional career.”
“This is an effective way to help good teachers become better, and great teachers to become even greater,” Mr. Tymann said.