Calibrating observer practices yields robust teacher evaluations

Newport Independent Schools | Newport, KY

We are now better able to use the data collected during formal evaluations, peer observations, and walkthroughs to drive instructional improvement and engage all of our educators in meaningful professional learning.Amy GilkisonChief Academic Officer

Ready to embrace the Framework for Teaching

As the district prepared for the official rollout of Kentucky’s new teacher evaluation system in the 2015–2016 school year, Newport Independent School District wanted to be sure that all stakeholders—certified observers, administrators, and instructional leaders—were prepared and up to date. Using Teachscape Focus Calibration, the district ensured that evaluations were aligned with best practices based on the Framework for Teaching (FFT).

“Teachscape provided us with the tools to really deepen the knowledge and application of the Framework for all of our observers who conduct teacher evaluations—either formal or informal—using a common language of effective teaching practices,” said Amy Gilkison, Chief Academic Officer of Newport Independent School District.

Observer calibration on demand

Once observers have been certified via Teachscape’s Proficiency Assessment, their accuracy and performance can be assessed at any time during the school year with Focus. Within timeframes determined by the district, observers watch and score two videos, and the results are calibrated. This ensures consistency of the observation process and fuels professional growth for the teachers and instructional leaders.

The district also uses Focus to help observers themselves maintain and improve their understanding of the FFT throughout the school year and during the summer months. By staying engaged with the FFT, observers can better identify teachers’ strengths and development areas through fair and reliable evaluations. Weekly professional learning community meetings enable ideas and observations to be shared freely.

Embedding the Framework for Teaching in the classroom

“The videos of exemplary practices allow our instructional leaders and teachers to work collaboratively to hone in on and discuss specific instructional topics, such as questioning,” said Gilkison.

“Teachscape Focus Calibration is helping our certified observers to continue improving teacher effectiveness and make the Framework for Teaching an embedded part of everyday teaching.”

District administrators and instructional leaders ordinarily take the pulse of teachers through classroom walkthroughs and informal evaluations. With an increasing understanding of and fluency in the FFT, they can produce more insightful feedback through these informal encounters, and aggregate data at the classroom, building and district level. These leaves the district better equipped to create tailored programs to support teachers, improving instructional practices.