Frequently asked questions on TDE

Teacher development and evaluation FAQ

Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about the new teacher development and evaluation (TDE) law. Check back regularly for new information.

Did the 2014 Legislature change TDE?
The Legislature amended the language on teacher development and evaluation (TDE) and the Alternative Teacher Professional Pay System (ATPPS), commonly known as Q-Comp. The amendments align the two programs, capitalizing on the best elements of both. Also, the legislation provides $10 million in funding to non-Q-Comp districts and charter schools to implement TDE.

Following are the changes to TDE for all districts. These changes must be in place at the start of the 2014-15 school year. The new language:

  • Removes professional learning communities as a requirement in TDE and instead allows “job-embedded learning opportunities such as professional learning communities” as an option, not a requirement.
  • Mandates that training for summative evaluators be specific to TDE.
  • Protects the notes shared between a teacher and his or her peer reviewer/coach.
  • Modifies the requirement for longitudinal data on student engagement and connection to include references to “academic literacy, oral academic language, and achievement of content areas of English learners.”
  • Amends the 35 percent student growth requirement to include measures of literacy.

Changes that affect ATPPS/Q-Comp districts include the following. Note that these changes take effect for plans approved after Aug. 1, 2015, so currently approved plans are not affected. The new language:

  • Modifies the ATPPS/Q-Comp student achievement requirement to align with the student growth requirement in TDE.
  • Requires measures of student growth and literacy (formerly student achievement) in ATPPS/Q-Comp plans to include “academic literacy, oral academic language, and achievement of English learners.”
  • Aligns the ATPPS/Q-Comp observation requirements with those in TDE.
  • Adds a requirement for “job-embedded learning opportunities such as professional learning communities” to ATPPS/Q-Comp plans.

What are we learning from the pilot of the state teacher evaluation model?
The Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI) at the University of Minnesota has released the first of three reports based on their study of the 18 pilot programs that began implementation of the state model in fall 2013. This report is based on data compiled from August to December 2013. Stakeholder groups including teachers, principals, school boards and leaders from pilot districts, met to review these initial findings and identify themes. The leadership team learned:

Teachers value opportunities to collaborate and grow professionally through teacher development and evaluation. Teachers believe interactions with colleagues about practice and student outcomes are meaningful to their growth as well as to an evaluation system.

School leaders/principals play a significant role in teacher development and evaluation. In many cases, this work will redefine the role of the school leader or principal.

Considerable professional development is needed to support teacher development and evaluation. Summative evaluators, peer reviewers and teachers are learning new ways to work. Ongoing support in this area will be critical for various stages of implementation.

Districts should align teacher development and evaluation to other district initiatives. Pilot districts found success when teacher development and evaluation activities were aligned to current as well as new initiatives.

Pilot districts used teams of school and district leaders, including teachers, to plan, monitor progress and problem-solve. Change and flexibility in the implementation stages should be expected.

Educators are concerned about sustainability of teacher development and evaluation. Providing meaningful development experiences and fair evaluations for teachers requires significant investment of resources.

These findings can also be useful for districts that are writing their own locally designed plans. You can access the preliminary report from the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement at their website.

What is required for the Individual Growth and Development Plan?
The statute requires an Individual Growth and Development Plan (IGDP) to be part of the three-year professional review cycle for every teacher. The statute offers no further details about design or implementation of the plan. In general, however, an IGDP is used to set and work toward goals for professional growth. The plan goals may come from self-assessments; grade-level, professional learning community, building or district goals centered on student learning; or personal motivation to acquire new professional skills and knowledge. Teachers will have a more meaningful experience if the plan includes specific professional development activities that support the goals. The plan may include a format for noting progress toward the goals and a timeline for completion and review, and identify supports needed to improve components of the teacher’s professional practice that affect student learning.

Where does the IGDP fit within the development and evaluation system?
The plan sits at the center of the TDE system. It is the vehicle through which each teacher reflects on his or her teaching practices, sets goals for improvement and outlines needed professional development supports. The teacher exercises control over his or her professional learning and growth through the plan. In designing the TDE system, the union and the district together must determine where the IGDP fits within the district’s strategic mission and goals, professional development structure, and curriculum.

Are probationary teachers required to develop an IGDP?
Yes. All teachers must have a plan. Districts must adopt a written plan for evaluating probationary teachers that is consistent with the TDE requirements and includes one evaluation in the first 90 days of service and at least three evaluations during each year of the probationary period.

What does teacher evaluation look like in other states?
All 50 states have teacher evaluation policies on the books, and full implementation will occur by 2015 in all but a handful of states. The policies hold a lot in common:

  • Forty-six states require the use of student achievement data.
  • Thirty-five states require training for evaluators.
  • Thirty-three states require annual evaluations.
  • Thirty-one states use evaluation results to target professional development.
  • Twenty-five states require teachers with poor evaluations to be placed on teacher improvement plans.
  • Seventeen states require or allow the use of surveys – of peers, parents or students.

Data sources: American Institutes for Research, Center for Public Education, National Council on Teacher Quality

Do Minnesota’s requirements align with research?
In her 2013 book "Getting Teacher Evaluation Right: What Really Matters for Effectiveness and Improvement," noted educational researcher Linda Darling Hammond argues that teacher evaluation must be part of a coherent, coordinated system of supports for professional learning throughout the profession. She provides a research-based set of criteria for teacher evaluation systems. Minnesota’s statutory requirements meet six of the seven criteria:

  • The system must be based on professional teaching standards.
  • Multiple sources of evidence on teacher practice, student learning and professional contributions must be included.
  • Evaluators must be trained.
  • The system must provide useful feedback with connections to professional development.
  • Teacher collaboration must be encouraged.
  • Teachers and administrators must be involved in designing, implementing, and monitoring the system.

The only recommended criterion not present in Minnesota's law is a formal system of “Peer Assistance and Review (PAR),” which puts personnel decisions in the hands of teams of teachers and administrators. Nothing in Minnesota statute would prevent this, but it's not required in our system.

When does our local teacher development and evaluation plan have to be ready?
State statute requires your school, and every Minnesota public school, to have a completed plan in place by the start of the 2014-15 school year. We strongly recommend that members of your local union and school board approve the plan before the end of this school year because scheduling meetings becomes harder during the summer, so you have adequate time to implement the new system.

How can I help shape our local plan and support our team?
Across the state, teams of teachers and administrators are working hard to develop TDE plans that meet statutory requirements and suit the local context. Every teacher will be affected by TDE; thus, we recommend that all teachers stay informed about the work of their local TDE team. Find out who is on your team. Determine what support your team might need. Communicate your ideas. Be aware of the state requirements and how they will affect you. Seek information about the team’s progress from your local union president or building representative.

Where can I find information on the law and coming to agreement on a local plan?
We've published a variety of materials to help members and local teams understand TDE requirements and design a local plan. Two documents – “Successfully Agreeing on a Local Plan” and the accompanying “Target Date Companion” – are especially useful for understanding the process of working with the district on TDE. Also available is sample joint agreement language.

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What does a “joint agreement” look like?
Your local union, as the teachers' exclusive representative, and your school board must agree on a local TDE system or you must use the state model. A serious joint agreement calls for two things: a meeting of minds between the two parties, and a way to document the agreement (a piece of paper with signatures). Creating a joint agreement makes the provisions of the TDE plan legally binding on both your local union and your school district.

Besides the typical activities, what should I expect in the new teacher evaluation system?
Minnesota’s teacher development and evaluation (TDE) law is comprehensive, requiring not only activities traditionally associated with evaluation, but also collaborative activities aimed at building a supportive climate for professional learning and growth. Some of these additional requirements include the following:

  • Individual growth and development plans for each teacher.
  • Coordination with district staff development efforts.
  • The opportunity to participate in a professional learning community.
  • Peer review and coaching by trained observers.
  • A teacher improvement process that includes goals and timelines for teachers not meeting standards.

Researchers agree that school environments that support professional learning and collaboration among educators have the most potential for improving student learning. We encourage members to advocate for strong systems of professional development to underlie evaluation efforts at the local level.

What will my evaluation look like under the new law?
Starting with the 2014-15 school year, it will emphasize teacher growth and development and include student achievement data. The required components include the following:

  • Peer review process.
  • Professional learning communities.
  • Three-year review cycle.
  • Individual growth and development plan.
  • Summative evaluation by a qualified and trained evaluator.
  • Coordinated staff development with evaluation process and outcome.
  • Portfolio option.
  • Growth data from assessments that are valid, reliable and aligned to standards.
  • Longitudinal data on student engagement and connection.
  • Teacher improvement process (TIP).
  • Discipline for teachers not making adequate progress in TIP.

Your local union and district must agree to a local evaluation plan or you will be evaluated based on the state model. Local unions and districts should establish the beliefs that will form the foundation of an effective and fair local teacher evaluation plan.

Education Minnesota has developed the brochures "Successfully Agreeing On a Local Plan" to provide guidance to negotiators and "Building a Teacher Development and Evaluation Plan: Components of the Minnesota Law" to help explain the law’s requirements.

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What is Education Minnesota’s response to the state pilot model?
The state pilot model provides a useful reference for district teams to consider in creating local plans, but we continue to stress that the best decisions about teacher development and evaluation are made locally. We have developed a guidance document that highlights how the state model aligns with statutory requirements and notes which elements are likely to work well in local plans; which require a deeper look; and which may challenge local beliefs, require substantial resources or add complicated procedures.

Here are some highlights:

  • Aside from the 35 percent assigned to growth measures, the statute does not require assigning weights to elements of the evaluation system, but the state plan assigns 45 percent to teacher practice elements and 20 percent to student engagement data. Whether the system is weighted or holistic in nature is a local decision, and if weights are used, local teams can design their own approach.
  • The statute requires that summative evaluations be conducted by a "trained and qualified evaluator," and the state model allows for both school administrators and teaching peers to serve in the summative evaluator role. Education Minnesota recommends that, if peer summative evaluators are used, language should be agreed upon regarding the roles and responsibilities of teachers who evaluate their peers.
  • The statute states that evaluation data are considered personnel data and must be made available to the school district on request. The state model includes forms documenting peer review activities, which could be accessed by the district. It is important that local plans protect the trust and confidentiality so critical for peer review to be successful.
  • The state model uses student learning goals (SLGs) to meet the requirement for student growth measures. Although SLGs offer a flexible approach, the state plan is somewhat prescriptive. Local teams should develop a fair approach for all teachers, including those in "non-tested" areas and those who do not have classroom data (e.g., school counselors, teachers on special assignment).
  • To address the student engagement component, the state plan requires a student survey. This is one approach to be considered, but it is not required in statute.

Does the new law require the use of student surveys?
The use of student surveys is not required in statute. Student surveys may be used to fulfill the requirement that a TDE plan include longitudinal data on student engagement and connection. The state model uses a combination of student survey data and evidence gathered from observations, self-assessment and peer review to fulfill the requirement that a teacher development and evaluation plan include longitudinal data on student engagement and connection. A locally agreed-on plan may use a similar combination, or another type of data to fulfill this requirement.

On what standards is the evaluation system to be based?
The statutory language on teacher evaluation requires that evaluation processes be based on "professional teaching standards established in rule." These are the Minnesota Standards of Effective Practice for Teachers (8710.2000), developed and adopted by the Minnesota Board of Teaching. Based on the original standards of the national-level Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC), these 10 standards identify the knowledge, skills and dispositions that teachers must master to be licensed in our state. Standard 1 articulates subject matter standards and differentiates one licensure field from another. Standards 2 through 10 address pedagogy and are the same for all teaching fields.

In designing a local plan, it is important to align systems and rubrics for assessing teacher performance with Minnesota standards. The teacher practice rubric in the state teacher evaluation pilot model is aligned to these standards, and because teacher evaluation scholar Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching is aligned to INTASC standards, it, too, meets the requirement. Other rubrics, whether they be offered publicly or through a vendor, should be analyzed carefully to ensure that they align with Minnesota standards.

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Can my district simply buy an evaluation product that will satisfy the requirements?
The complexity of the TDE law makes it tempting to look for a quick and easy solution, but quick and easy is not often the best choice. Consider building the capacity in your district to do this important work without a vendor. A district that is considering using a vendor should make sure the product fulfills all the requirements of the TDE law and addresses local beliefs about teacher development and evaluation.

Purchasing a product is a local decision that is best made slowly and collaboratively after consultation with professional organizations and the Minnesota Department of Education. Both the exclusive bargaining representative and the school district will have to agree on using any elements of a purchased product that goes beyond the requirements of the statute.

Who should be involved in creating my district’s plan?
A joint district-union team should study the statutory requirements, develop beliefs about teacher development and evaluation, examine the state model, and ultimately design and agree to the local plan. When the union selects members for the team, individuals must be chosen who can represent the interests of all the teachers in the local union. The team should include members who:

  • are acknowledged as subject matter leaders or experts,
  • are familiar with professional development,
  • have mentored beginning teachers,
  • are familiar with member rights issues, and
  • have served in union leadership roles, including bargaining.

Team members should be reliable and thoughtful, have earned the trust and respect of colleagues, and can command respect in the district and community. The local union should ensure representation from various groups such as grade levels, content areas and specialties, generations, buildings, and union experience.

Who will review our plan and approve it?
State statute does not include a required approval process for locally agreed-on plans, but the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) indicates it will ask school districts to confirm they are complying with the law. MDE could possibly take enforcement action against a district that is not in compliance. By using Education Minnesota guidance materials to design a locally agreed-upon plan, union and district joint teams will be able to confirm they have fulfilled the requirements of the statute.

What changes did the Legislature make to the requirements during the 2013 session?
The Legislature removed the requirement that value-added data be used for evaluating teachers when such data are available. Now, all teachers will have 35 percent of their evaluation based on growth data from assessments that are valid, reliable and aligned to standards. The Legislature provided funding for the Minnesota Department of Education to lead teacher evaluation efforts and for districts that will pilot the state model. In addition, there was a change to the 2 percent staff development set-aside to allow districts to use those monies to fund teacher evaluation. Finally, charter schools are now required to implement teacher evaluation plans.