The Performance Evaluation Reform Act of 2010 (PERA)
On January, 18, 2010 Governor Quinn signed into law the Performance Evaluation Reform Act of 2010. The act was essentially created to improve Illinois’ chances for the second phase of RTTT (Race to the Top) funding, in which it was unsuccessful. PERA’s teacher and principal evaluation provisions, incorporating student growth and professional practices, are a direct response to RTTT requirements that links student achievement and student growth data to teachers’ and principals’ evaluations, something that has previously not been required in Illinois, or nationally, for that matter.
The new performance evaluation procedures required to be in effect by September 1, 2012 are summarized below. For simplicity’s sake, only the requirements for high performing suburban districts such as D203 are discussed (other districts have different requirements/effective dates) and interim procedures are not included.
Principal Performance Evaluation
- Principals must be evaluated at least once every school year and be rated as “excellent”, “proficient”, “needs improvement” or “unsatisfactory”.
- The evaluation must be in writing and must:
(1) “Consider the principal’s specific duties, responsibilities, management and competence.”
(2) “Specify the principal’s strengths and weaknesses, with supporting reasons.”
(3) “Align with research-based standards” established by ISBE.
(4) Must also “use data and indicators on student growth as a significant factor in rating principal performance.”
Teacher Performance Evaluation
- Non-tenured teachers must be evaluated at least once each school year and tenured teachers at least once every two school years and be rated as “excellent”, “proficient”, “needs improvement”, or “unsatisfactory”.
- For tenured teachers who are rated as “needs improvement” the evaluator must, within 30 school days and in consultation with the teacher, create a “professional development plan” to address the areas that need improvement and specify any supports that the school district will provide to address the areas identified as needing improvement.
- Tenured teachers rated as “unsatisfactory”, assuming they are not dismissed, will, within 30 days, be placed on a 90 school day remediation plan created by the evaluator in consultation with the teacher, unless a shorter time is specified in the applicable collective bargaining agreement. A mid-point and final evaluation by an evaluator will occur during the remediation period. A teacher who fails to complete a remediation plan with a rating equal to or better than ‘satisfactory’ or ‘proficient’ shall be terminated
- Tenured teachers who receive a “needs improvement” or “unsatisfactory” rating must be evaluated at least once in the school year following the receipt of such a rating. If they receive a rating equal to or better than a “proficient” rating in the school year following a rating of “needs improvement” or “unsatisfactory”, they shall be reinstated to the regular evaluation schedule.
Requirement to use data and indicators on student growth as a significant factor in rating teacher performance by September 1, 2016.
- School districts, are required to: “in good faith cooperation with its teachers or, where applicable, the exclusive bargaining representatives of its teachers, incorporate the use of data and indicators of student growth as a significant factor in rating teaching performance, into its evaluation plan for all teachers.” If a school district creates its own plan it will be required to, at a minimum, meet the standards and requirements for student growth established by the ISBE in its model evaluation plan.
- Each school district will establish a joint committee composed of equal representation of the school district and its teachers/union. If, within 180 days of the committee’s first meeting, the committee cannot reach an agreement on the plan, school districts outside of Chicago will be required to use the model evaluation plan developed by ISBE. Further, by the implementation date, teacher evaluation plans are to: “. . . specifically describe how student growth data and indicators will be used as part of the evaluation process, how this information will relate to evaluation standards, the assessments or other indicators of student performance that will be used in measuring student growth and the weight that each will have, the methodology that will be used to measure student growth and the criteria other than student growth that will be used in evaluating the teacher and the weight that each will have.”
- The ISBE will be creating numerous rules outlining:
(1) “The methods for measuring student growth (including, but not limited to, limitations on the age of usable data, the amount of data needed to reliably and validly measure growth for the purpose of teacher and principal evaluations, and whether, and at what time, annual State assessments may be used as one of multiple measures of student growth).”
(2) “Defining the term ‘significant factor’ for purposes of including consideration of student growth in performance ratings.”
(3) “Controlling for such factors as student characteristics (including, but not limited to, students receiving special education and English Language Learner services), student attendance, and student mobility so as to best measure the impact that a teacher, principal, school and school district has on students' academic achievement.”
(4) “Establishing minimum requirements for district teacher and principal evaluation instruments and procedures.”
(5) “Establishing a model evaluation plan for use by school districts in which student growth shall comprise 50% of the performance rating.”
Non administrators will be able to perform evaluations
The Act allows for peer evaluation (and evaluation by department chairs), if agreed to by the district and collective bargaining unit. Evaluators will be required to successfully complete a pre-qualification program, participate in in-service training prior to any evaluations, and at least once during the time their certificate is effective.
State Board of Education data collection and evaluation assessment and support systems.
“The State Board of Education shall, through a process involving collaboration with the Performance
Evaluation Advisory Council develop (or contract for the development of) and implement all of the following data collection, evaluation assessment and support systems:”
- “A system to annually collect and publish data by district and school on teacher and administratorperformance evaluation outcomes. The system must ensure that no teacher or administrator can be personally identified by publicly reported data.”
- "Both a teacher and principal model evaluation template. The model templates must incorporate the requirements of this Article and any other requirements established by the State Board by administrative rule, but allow customization by districts in a manner that does not conflict with such requirements.”
- “An evaluator pre-qualification program based on the model teacher evaluation template.”
- “An evaluator training program based on the model teacher evaluation template. The training program shall provide multiple training options that account for the prior training and experience of the evaluator.”
- “A superintendent training program based on the model principal evaluation template.”
- “One or more instruments to provide feedback to principals on the instructional environment within a school.”
- “A State Board-provided or approved technical assistance system that supports districts with the development and implementation of teacher and principal evaluation systems.”
- “Web-based systems and tools supporting implementation of the model templates and the evaluator pre-qualification and training programs.”
- “A process for measuring and reporting correlations between local principal and teacher evaluations and (A) student growth in tested grades and subjects and (B) retention rates of teachers.”
- “A process for assessing whether school district evaluation systems developed pursuant to this Act and that consider student growth as a significant factor in the rating of a teacher's and principal's performance are valid and reliable, contribute to the development of staff, and improve student achievement outcomes. By no later than September 1, 2014, a research-based study shall be issued assessing such systems for validity and reliability, contribution to the development of staff, and improvement of student performance and recommending, based on the results of this study, changes, if any, that need to be incorporated into teacher and principal evaluation systems that consider student growth as a significant factor in the rating performance for remaining school districts to be required to implement such systems.”
Performance evaluations of teachers, principals, and superintendents are exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests.
Considering the financial situation of the State of Illinois, the following is of real concern. Already, in 2011, the state reduced the funding for implementing education reform efforts:
“If the State Board of Education does not timely fulfill rulemaking or any of the State templates or systems discussed above, or if adequate and sustainable funds are not provided to the State Board of Education and school districts to meet their respective responsibilities under PERA, the applicable implementation date shall be postponed.”
Sources: ISBE and PERA Act 096-0861