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Department of Education recognizes PPS as ‘nationwide leader’ in ability to evaluate teachers

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The United States Department of Education validated Pittsburgh Public Schools’ teacher evaluation system in its “Professional Practice, Student Surveys, and Value-Added: Multiple Measures of Teacher Effectiveness in the Pittsburgh Public Schools” report published last week. 

The five-year collaboration and implementation process of an evaluation system which accurately identifies and rewards Pittsburgh’s best teachers while informing less successful ones of opportunities for improvement, has been nationally recognized. 

The DOE recognizes Pittsburgh Public Schools as a “nationwide leader in the ability to accurately evaluate teachers.” The three measures comprising the evaluation system are observation of professional practice (RISE), student feedback (Tripod), and student learning and growth (Teacher VAM/RISE 3f). 

All components have been evaluated and proven to differentiate teacher performance by the DOE. Additionally, the measures are correlated at levels consistent with findings from national studies. 

The three-pronged system shows statistically significant correlations among methods, meaning that teachers who received high RISE ratings also garnered positive student feedback and high value-added measure estimates. Such correlation displays the ability of all three measures to accurately evaluate teachers. 

The report states that other districts and states may look to our district’s method when redesigning and refining their measures of teacher effectiveness. 

The DOE gave a few suggestions for improvement of our district’s system, the main one being the use of multiple raters for each teacher when compiling the professional practice measure (RISE). Using another evaluator, in addition to the school’s principal, would decrease the variations between schools that may arise if some principals are tougher than others when implementing RISE. 

All in all, the Department of Education concluded that PPS’s new teacher evaluation system is “already producing richer and more fine-grained information on teacher effectiveness than has previously been available in Pittsburgh schools.”