06/20/2013

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Strengthening the link between evaluation and professional development With a greater focus than ever before on educator effectiveness, more and more states are linking improved performance of teachers and principals not only to their new educator evaluation systems but also to their professional development systems. In fact, state legislatures and boards of education in 15 states have recently passed laws that require districts to use results from educator evaluations when planning professional development (PD). From both research and our practical experience working with educators across the country, we know that to improve educator performance, PD needs to be 1) systematically planned, 2) implemented with fidelity, and 3) evaluated for effectiveness. Here’s an example of how one Race to the Top state is addressing these three components. After implementing a new educator evaluation system, this state decided to focus on building the capacity of its local school districts and education agencies to plan, implement, and evaluate PD. The state collaborated with McREL to develop a series of professional learning sessions called Preparing Districts to Evaluate Professional Development. Local PD administrators from across the state are participating in the eight sessions, receiving support and technical assistance as they implement the strategies they learn. As part of the project, we’re using an online survey to assess the impact of the sessions using Guskey’s (2002) five levels of evaluating PD: participant reaction, participant learning, participant use of the new knowledge and skills, organizational support and change, and student learning outcomes. In regards to implementing the new knowledge and skills they’ve learned in...
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Authentic, Personalized Learning: Pre- and Post-Technology (A Case Study) McREL has long maintained that technology, when used thoughtfully and intentionally, enhances good instruction. But it’s not about the technology itself; it’s about technology working together with a well-designed lesson or project focused on clear learning targets and differentiated by student needs and learning styles. I just read a blog post by Krista Moroder, an educator in Wisconsin, and it really resonated with me. Krista’s reflections, posted at EdTechCoaching, help us remember that good teaching isn’t something new, created by modern technology tools. Many of us got into education because of great teachers in our own past. Technology can, however, make good instruction even better. With her permission, I've reposted Krista’s column below. -Howard Pitler Authentic, Personalized Learning: Pre- and Post-Technology (A Case Study) by Krista Moroder I recently worked with a few teachers on a service-learning project they had designed for their students. As we talked about the purpose and design of the project, I was brought back to my sophomore year of high school--and one of the school assignments that had a huge impact on who I am today. I was fifteen, and I had just read Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. In response to the reading, we were told to try to fix an injustice in our community. I ended up starting an informal community service organization ("T.H.E. Group- Teens Helping Elderly")--and set up a few volunteer commitments. After the school assignment ended, however, the phone calls kept coming in--so I kept the...

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