I believe that our Department has done more over the last two years than at any other period in our history to ensure there is an effective educator in every classroom and an effective principal in every building.
Earlier this month, we advanced our commitment to supporting great teachers and leaders even further when we provisionally-adopted a new rule to help districts implement the landmark teacher and principal effectiveness law proposed and signed by Governor LePage in 2012. Chapter 180, “Performance Evaluation and Professional Growth Systems,” now moves to the Legislature for their consideration and what we hope will be approval to move to final adoption of the rule.
The rule establishes standards and procedures for implementation of performance evaluation and professional growth systems (known as PE/PG systems) for teachers and principals that each school administrative unit is required to have developed and fully-implemented by the 2015-16 school year. The purpose of a PE/PG system is to improve educator effectiveness by establishing clear expectations for professional practice and student learning/growth and providing actionable feedback and support to help educators meet them.
If all this sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Last year, the Department also sent a provisionally-adopted version of this rule to the Legislature but that body failed to reach consensus, specifically around fulfilling the law’s directive that measurements of student learning and growth be a significant factor in the determination of an educator’s rating. As a result, we were required to restart the rulemaking process, which we did this fall and through which we received input from 172 people from the field and the public.
While the rule largely mirrors the one we submitted last year, we did make several important changes that we believe address the concerns of teachers, administrators and their representatives. Among them was reducing to 20 percent the minimum percentage by which student learning and growth measures are considered significant and allowing the use of collective student growth measures, with agreement of the teacher, for up to one-quarter of the student growth measures. Collective student growth measures recognize that a student’s academic achievement is impacted by teachers other than the one of record. At the same time, our provisionally-adopted rule ensures districts develop a high quality, objective evaluation process that will fulfill the State’s educator effectiveness law and the expectations of the federal U.S. Department of Education, including those established in Maine’s hard-won ESEA waiver.
I encourage the Legislature to act quickly on the rule and adopt what the Department has thoughtfully put forth in the bipartisan spirit in which the educator effectiveness law was initially enacted. Doing so will not only give districts the direction they deserve, but more importantly, is perhaps the single most important action we can take in Augusta this legislative session to put Maine’s students first.