Tuesday, April 24, 2012

SHoM and Student/Teacher Performance Evaluations

All of us at CPS are thinking about what our teacher evaluations will be like next year. We will now be evaluated based on student performance.  These evaluations determine who keeps jobs and which programs are cut. Of course, we have no clue what that process is, yet must improve and develop curriculae to survive said process.
So many questions....
How will student performance be measured? What rubrics will be used? How do we measure data that is not only quantitative but also QUALITATIVE? How do we balance the numbers-driven goals of CPS and the experiential process we know works in the Art Studio? How can student performance be measured in a way to show the VALUE of art teacher performance and our own effectiveness beyond student attendance, grades, and core subject test scores? I am thinking of music, theater, and dance teacher evaluations in addition to the visual arts.

We at CPS need to be sure that the way we are evaluated reflects the way we need to teach. Our curriculum will have to respond to the ways student performance will be measured in addition to the way teacher performance will be measured. I don't know about you, but we are all a nervous wreck here at Curie. It is hard to develop a curriculum without the slightest idea of what those rubrics will be. Not to mention working under the threats made about what happens if we (and our students) don't perform according to the unknown rubric.

So I have been asking questions about WHO is developing these student and teacher evaluations. That same day I got some answers. There is a group being formed by CPS to work on it. Cool, let's get involved! Let's make sure art, music, theater, and dance teachers are on that committee.

Of course I couldn't help but think about how SHoM can play into this process. I have had such success at using this program for the first time this year. I will continue to use it. I wrote to Kate asking how can the data collection developed through SHoM help in our quest to evaluate art students and teachers fairly. She asked me to put these questions on the blog.

So here you are. What will we do? I hope to be part of the conversation and not just  a victim to what is decided for next year. I hope to be able to make use of what we have all learned this year for years to come. I hope to lessen my fear of the impending evaluation process, knowing that some of us from SHoM were part of the fair development of rubrics. We all want  to measure our own effectiveness without sacrificing the experiential quality of our instruction. How can we do this? I put this question out there... help.

Valerie Xanos


  1. There are no easy answers. We all know that there is no protocol established for how the arts teachers will be evaluated other than according to reading scores, for all not-core subject area teachers. (That's what I have heard). So, I ask, how do I have control over what is taught in social studies classes, that are considered core content area for reading? And, more importantly, how do we, as arts teachers, present a measurable rubric that is tied to the 'flavor of the day' (ie: PSAE? Common Core? We don't even know, nor do the administrative leaders, when and how we will be assessing students according to Common Core.) I think this will be an evolutionary process. It's imperative that we are all part of establishing the perameters of this eveluative process.

    1. Paula, I agree with you. I think much of the CPS Art teacher anxiety stems from this conflict. We are going to be required to focus on core issues and data, but don't know what, how, etc... This is frustrating. I am hoping, that in the vacuum of planning and concrete answers (on the part of the city leadership mandating this) we can be part of creating the rubrics to not only follow their vague demands but to also create real process based performance evaluation into the mix. We can hope, but more importantly, work at being part of the decisions (just as you say). Thanks! I see we are all in the same boat. Solidarity!

    2. In a way, Deborah and I have been fortunate enough to be at off-site P.D.s during the evaluation discussions at our school. I found the discussions, activities and information I received at MCA on the 13th of April to be a more productive use of my time than sitting at school fretting about students evaluating me in the upcoming years. In a sense this already happens in my classroom. All of my students complete an exit survey at the end of the school year in which they evaluate my curriculum flow, quality of lessons, teaching, and democracy within the classroom. Students have already received their final grade and therefore know they can be honest in their responses. Through these evaluations I have received valuable feedback which has impacted my teaching. I know in which parts of the classroom I tend to linger longer; I know my students crave discipline and order in the classroom and get frustrated when a small number of students consistently monopolize time and energy; and I know which lessons students’ value and learn from and which ones they view as pointless exercises.

      In essence, where I am going is suggesting we track student learning through a portfolio of work. I envision this happening in conjunction with the administration, since they are trained and ultimately responsible for our evaluations. At the beginning of each year the counseling staff (or another qualified individual) can identify six students for each Fine Arts teacher to track--two low performers, two middle performers, and two high performers (two in each group would allow for transiency). It would be the teacher’s responsibility to track student writing, thinking and production samples throughout the year, ending with a Board-influenced, teacher-created evaluation. Come evaluation time we would sit down with an administrator and demonstrate student growth and learning for a student in each group. This is not all too different than Entry 1 in the National Board Certification process. This process would empower teachers in their classrooms and encourage us to take a critical lens to our curriculum and begin to eliminate the fluff. It would also encourage student writing and literacy in the arts classrooms, in addition to students demonstrating/documenting their planning, thinking, and learning process, not unlike showing work in a math exercise. I’m sure there are many flaws in this plan, but I personally would feel more comfortable taking the responsibility of documenting student growth and learning and my evaluation into my own hands.

      Jennifer Barron, Kennedy H.S.

  2. Hello Valerie, You gave a great example of how students can take on roles during a critique. Is there any way you can videotape this in action?
    Chrissy Gray-Rodriguez, John W. Garvy School

    1. Dear Chrissy
      Kate mentioned that to me today. I will try to do that in the next week or so. We are supposed to be doing some in a couple of classes. Changes and mandates at school have made it REALLY hard to squeeze in time for quality critiques. I have been dying to get to some nitty gritty talk. If I get to it, I will definitely post it on here. In the meantime, I was planning to write it up on the blog as promised.