Yes, this is a rhetorical question, but in case you needed more proof, Mr. Ruszkowski is at it again, getting his ideologue on, bashing principals for not whacking teachers while our newly minted Chief for Change, Mark Murphy, is in the audience, probably cheering wildly for his worker.
Here’s the excellent letter issued by DASA’s Executive Director calling him out for one of his petty, ill informed, all to common tantrums.
The Delaware Association of School Administrators would like to respond to recent statements made by the chief officer of the Teacher Leader Effectiveness Unit for the Delaware Department of Education, Mr. Christopher Ruszkowski, and the November report published by DDOE titled “Continuous Improvements.” The statements and the report address the Delaware teacher-evaluation system called “DPAS II” and the use of the system by school administrators during the school year 2012-2013.
When interviewed for NPR, Mr. Ruszkowski responded to the fact that 99 percent of teachers were rated “effective” or “highly effective” in 2012-13 by saying that “there seems to be a problem of either will or skill that’s happening at our schools in which principals are not willing to look at the data in front of them and make some really difficult decisions.”
He compared the teachers’ ratings to student achievement scores to draw a discrepancy. Mr. Ruszkowski said that “we are missing opportunities for authentic feedback” (for teachers). DASA would like to make three important points about the data, the statements that were made on NPR, and the report published by DOE.
First, we are now publicly asking for a purpose for teacher evaluations in the state of Delaware. For years, the system, called DPAS II, has been used and touted with the purpose of teacher improvement. The recent communications from DDOE leave us believing that we should be using the system to “make difficult decisions” about teachers’ employment and not measures for improvement.
And, Mr. Ruszkowski compares teachers’ ratings to student test scores. Is the system to be used to improve classroom instruction, to dismiss teachers, or to be in alignment with student assessment scores? It cannot be all three.
Second, we call into question the data point about 99 percent of teachers being rated “effective” or “highly effective.” This percentage is taken from only teachers’ final evaluations for the year, and therefore only reflects teachers needing the summative evaluation on their two-year cycle.
It also does not include any teacher who left the profession for any number of reasons during the school year; an example would be a teacher who received poor ratings on a formative evaluation and decided to resign. The point of 99 percent is not an accurate picture of all teachers.
Furthermore, during the 2012-13 school year, teachers were observed with announced observations and with only one mandatory visit from a supervisor. We now have unannounced teacher observations as an option, and we have said for years that announced observations do not necessarily depict a teacher’s everyday practices for rating. That number is just not accurate.
Finally, as we have pointed out in the past, the system itself is not perfect and needs revision. On top of the systemic issues that we have expressed to DDOE, their implementation of fundamental changes to teacher evaluations for the school year 2012-13 was done in haste and with less-than-ready processes.
In a year when we are handed a new way to rate teachers with little training and mixed messages, we are then subjected to data collection during that year with the finger pointed at us for “will or skill.” Our organization is simply disappointed and we find it irresponsible to place blame without first turning to the system itself for examination.
Our voices have been muted in the past, and this is another example of that. It should be noted that Section 1275, Title 14, of Delaware Code prohibits changes to DPAS II without a review from the Advisory Committee.
This committee was not convened prior to some of the changes that were made unilaterally by DDOE last year.
We end by saying that we care deeply about kids and about improving our schools. Our interest with the publication of this letter is to recognize that our current system needs work and that our administrators and teachers need support, not scrutiny, from state leaders.
G. Scott Reihm
of School Administrators