Monday, June 8, 2009

Poo poo PPEP

Last week we had our final conferences with our administrators on the PPEP (Professional Something Evaluation Something? I don't know what it stands for, but it's how we in DCPS are evaluated as teachers). I'm sure that someone could write a book about the flaws of that system, but it is what it is. And it's out of our hands. What is not out of our hands, however, is how the PPEP is applied. And in my school, it was applied in a manner that can be summed up in one word: crap.

A couple of weeks ago we were given the evaluation form to fill out for ourselves. I'm pretty sure this is not how the PPEP is supposed to work -- my understanding is that the principal is supposed to fill it out with us there -- but whatever. We were then directed to come to the principal's office at a given time to submit the evaluation and conference about it.

The way I see it, teachers are divided into two groups at my school. One group (mostly -- but by no means exclusively -- newer teachers) is desperate for some kind of support, so they see the evaluation as an opportunity to have an honest conversation with our principal about ways they can grow. They spend time filling out their evaluation, and give themselves some "needs improvement" ratings on the areas where they think they do want to get better. They end up ranking themselves probably lower than the principal would. The other group, (mostly -- but, again, by no means exclusively -- veteran teachers) has been trained by DCPS to avoid honesty in evaluation. These teachers fear that any admission of weakness could be an opening for administrators to fire them. They fill out mostly "exceeds expectations" even if they don't believe (or deserve) it. They end up ranking themselves probably higher than the principal would.

Here's where it gets crappy. The principal spent literally 45 seconds reviewing each of our evaluations. She said, "OK, keep it up," signed my form, and sent me on my way. Gee, I'm glad I poured all that reflective energy into it. And, even better, I'm glad that the principal reaffirmed for everyone that it doesn't pay to be honest. Why don't principals use the evaluation process as a tool to help teachers grow? Teachers will never be honestly reflective if administrators aren't willing to actually support and lead them. The truth is that administrators want these dishonest evaluations. No hard thinking, no lengthy paperwork, and no responsibility. This school is ridonkulous.


Anonymous said...

I'm a DCPS parent and I'm sorry your principal did this to you. I watched our principal run around for nearly 3 weeks trying to administer this evaluation correctly. She has to do nearly 30 teachers and has no AP.

At the end of the day, I don't think your irresponsible principal and conscientious one at my school will be judged differently.

That's sad and it's the reason that my children will not be attending middle school in DCPS.

Even if you aren't getting the support you deserve as a teacher, please know that as a DCPS parent, I appreciate your efforts.

Toby said...

I guess I'm a veteran teacher not just in years of service but in how I rate myself on my PPEP self-evaluation. It goes against how I was raised to toot my own horn and not be modest. However, no way am I ever going to put down a needs improvement, even though all of us can improve. I try to put down mostly exceeds with a meets or two. And I do remember a principal back in the day when I was new in DCPS say, new teachers just aren't going to get outstanding, which was what exceeds was til they changed the teacher evaluation system. So any of you first year teachers hoping for exceeds, it may not happen.
If your teaching year hasn't been a total disaster, and you think you've done pretty well, a high meets (24-26 points) is quite reputable. And yeah, we know it's crap.

Kat said...

You asked: "Why don't principals use the evaluation process as a tool to help teachers grow?"

You also answered: Because it's "crap."

Seriously, it is a disaster and I'm thankful the evaluation plan is changing, and to one the WTU has absolutely no say in whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

The WTU had no real say in this evaluation tool.

This is sad, (your school's PPEP process) where as some schools follow the rules, others just seem to make them up as the go. As I speak, there are some Principals who are still conducting the PPEP conferences. I see grievances. Hopefully, lots.

Toby said...

I'm having my end of the year conference soon, as it's my planning period. I assume it will go well, as she has indicated to me that she has "no problems" with me and she recognizes my work. Unfortunately, she is so busy that I'll be bringing in a list of things to resolve, none of which involve my evaluation and have to do with other issues. Again, most of these principals are just trying to keep their jobs and schools and get to come back next year. I hope the good and fair leaders get that chance.

Anonymous said...

Did you see part of Rhee's new proposal for evaluations next year? See the job description below. Each Master Educator will do 200 evaluations a year-2 per day. Only 8 will be hired for the elementary level. What a joke. It will be impossible for these people to give real support.

There is no way that they will be able to do all of this and "Provide targeted, one-on-one, job-embedded support to educators in need assistance." We are just going to see more of what principals are doing now.

This is just another example of people at the top being clueless.

Use Your Talents. Transform Our Schools

Position Announcement: Master Educator
Requesting Office: District of Columbia Public Schools
Salary: $90,000 plus benefits
Location: Washington, D.C

As part of its effort to become the highest performing urban school system in the nation, the District of Columbia Public Schools will be launching a new teacher evaluation system in the fall of 2009. One of the key elements of this new system will be the “Master Educator” role. Individuals serving in this role will have two primary responsibilities: 1) serve as impartial, third-party evaluators of teacher proficiency in the new DCPS Teaching and Learning Framework; and 2) provide targeted support to educators who need assistance.

Key Duties:

• Evaluate educator proficiency in the new DCPS Teaching and Learning Framework through classroom observations, examinations of student work, and conferences with educators. Each Master Educator will conduct approximately 200 observations over the course of the year (about 2 per day). This part of the role will comprise approximately 70% of the work.

• Provide targeted, one-on-one, job-embedded support to educators in need assistance by observing lessons, modeling lessons, providing clear and direct feedback, analyzing student data, helping connect educators with other external professional development resources, collaborating with school-based Instructional Coaches, and other means. This part of the role will comprise approximately 15% of the work.

• Conduct one (per week) after-school professional development seminar aligned to the new DCPS Teaching and Learning Framework. This part of the role will comprise approximately 5% of the work.

• Participate in extensive training around the new DCPS Teaching and Learning Framework and on effective professional development techniques. This part of the role will comprise approximately 10% of the work.

• Maintain detailed records as required and attend meetings and trainings as required.

• Perform other duties as assigned.

Master Educator Needs:

• Early Childhood: 4 Master Educators needed
• Elementary: 8 Master Educators needed
• Secondary English: 2 Master Educators needed
• Secondary Math: 2 Master Educators needed
• Secondary Science: 2 Master Educators needed
• Secondary Social Studies: 2 Master Educators needed
• Special Education: 6 Master Educators needed
• ELL and Bilingual Education: 2 Master Educators needed
• Foreign Language: 2 Master Educators needed
• Visual and Performing Arts: 2 Master Educators needed
• Health and Physical Education: 2 Master Educators needed
• Counseling: 1 Master Educator needed
• Library/Media: 1 Master Educator needed

Glenn Watson said...

That means they want to spend almost $4 million a year on assessments and half assesed teacher training.

Kings said...

and what happens if they can't get the numbers of master educators that they need? will they be stretched thinner? Will they lower the standards?

Did you know that the qualifications are 5 years of classroom teaching, having raised achievement levels of low-performing students?

Harry, would you qualify for that job? If so, would you want it?

It's "at will."

Mr. Potter said...


No I wouldn't qualify for the job (not 5 years quite yet). But if I did, I wouldn't want it -- I actually like being a teacher. The "at will" status, however, doesn't concern me.

Mr. Potter said...

Yikes, I just realized that in my last post, the phrase "I actually like being a teacher" could be interpreted as implying that Kings doesn't. Totally not what I was intending. Sorry if there was any confusion.

Kat said...

Yes, I've seen the job description. I'm not interested in it, even though it would be a nice raise, for two reasons: (1) I have no problem with at-will employment, having come to teaching from the private sector, but it's dicey to take a brand new position in a reform movement. This current admin has not exhibited a lot of success in planning their ideas, so you will be walking into an ill-defined position. Plus, also common in reform, you're easily jettisoned as a "great in theory" idea. I don't like the idea of being viewed as expendable when 825 decides to change horses midstream (another downside to this reform). (2) You will be given a caseload to manage, comprised of teachers all over the city who don't know you, most of whom will see you as a spy from 825 and won't want you in their classrooms. You can tattoo "impartial evaluator" on your forehead and most will think you have an agenda, whether you do or not. Therefore, your chances at effectiveness are minimal.

However, all that said, if a master teacher comes into your classroom, provides you with suggestions to improve your standing on the T&L framework, and you don't implement or even attempt them, it will reflect poorly on you...and the MT, whose evaluation will probably be based on how much they were able to get teachers to improve, regardless of the circumstances or the lack of a relationship with said teachers.

I understand where this idea is coming from and I think it's "great in theory." Basically, it's partially a response to the people who have been allowed to complain that they don't want their bosses (i.e. their principals) evaluating them -- a thought that truly stuns me, because I can't think of any other industry where employees are given a say over who evaluates them.

Toby said...

I just got my evaluation, exceeds like it usually is. I got 28 out of 30, which I'm happy with. Part of the evaluation where I only got meets was in a strange area. To get exceeds for professional development, we had to have presented during collaborative planning. No one really did, except the counselor. Some teachers presented to their peers, supposedly, and got the exceeds. I think they did so during team meetings. Basically, I should have run after the principal and asked for time to present about something during collaborative planning time to have gotten exceeds in that area. Maybe next year. Another area that was rigged against most teachers with student achievement. We all got meets in that area because the test scores aren't back. They're never back until the summer, so why is that even on the PPEP?
Plus, she observed me at the last minute, just to have done it, and gave me no feedback. My conference was just a sign here time. At least she wasn't pety.

Kat said...

Toby, please clarify some things, because a couple of your comments are alarming.

"Basically, I should have run after the principal and asked for time to present about something during collaborative planning time to have gotten exceeds in that area."

Well, yeah! Exhibiting a willingness to share your instructional ideas rather than be a passive recipient of a PD that someone else took the initiative to provide is indeed exceeding expectations. Don't wait for an engraved invitation, either -- make an offer!

"Another area [besides PD] that was rigged against most teachers..."

How do you feel the PD section was rigged against teachers?

Toby said...

Alarming? This is a word I rarely use. But I will be happy to elaborate and clarify. At the beginning of the school year, our principal said that teachers will all be presenting PD sessions to their peers during collaborative planning. Meanwhile, I've been taking Saturday morning classes at a local university, not for a degree, as I have 2 master's, but because I like to study and know current trends and research in my field.
No one went to the principal during the school year and said I'd like to present. We just got busy with other things. So what she said would happen didn't, since nobody presented and it was never mentioned again. I certainly could have and will next year. I even have an idea that will be of interest to the staff. And btw, my school has a pretty competent and hard-working faculty, with strong veteran teachers and a few with less than 5 years' experience, all great.
I will clarify about the area that I said was rigged, and I should have written ill-planned. One of our local school targets was student achievement, for which everyone got a meets, since the test data isn't back. However, I did hear today that one of the kindergarten teachers, whose children showed significant growth in DIBBELS, got an exceeds in the area of student achievement.
The end of the year evaluations were absolutely rushed, our poor principal under a deadline, and totally pro forma. Anyone expecting constructive feedback wouldn't have gotten it. She just had a stack of evaluations to turn in, or email them over, to her supervisor.

Kat said...

Yeah, I wasn't sure if "alarming" was the right word, but I went with it anyway. My point was that teachers also bear a responsibility for ensuring that programs don't fail -- the onus is not just on the principal (lord knows they have plenty to do). Collaboration will of course fail if no one makes an attempt to keep it going, or if people think the principal will set the schedule. But then people shouldn't be surprised when it becomes seen as a waste of time. They should be asking, "What did I do to make it better?" It's a tough question to ask oneself.

It's kinda like choosing not to vote when you could have; you lose your right to complain about whoever got elected.

Thanks for elaborating/explaining.

Toby said...

Most teachers I know, and we've been in the system for a while, remember when there was no collaborative planning at 8:00 or 8:10 most every morning. It is a relatively new development in our schedules. This was time we used not to sit in the teachers' lounge and drink coffee, arrive late or yak on the phone: this was time we needed to get our rooms ready and plan for instruction. So we never really bought into it and see it as a minor annoyance at best or a waste of time at worse. Our school has never used the collaborative planning time as professional devlopment, but as general meeting time. Maybe next year we'll actually prent to our peers. My friend does so in her school.