HONOLULU – The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) and the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) recently conducted a joint survey regarding the Educator Effectiveness System (EES), which was implemented statewide at the beginning of the 2013-14 school year. The purpose of the joint survey was to gather teacher feedback on their experiences and opinions regarding the EES to help better understand its strengths and identify areas for improvement.
Funded by the Harold K. L. Castle Foundation and conducted by Ward Research Inc., the online survey was sent to the HSTA's 13,500 teacher members, 4,280 (30%) of which completed the survey between the Feb. 25 and March 11 survey period. Respondents represented all districts and types of teachers. This level of response provides a maximum sampling error of only +/- 1.3 percent.
Results from the survey indicate varying degrees in understanding the EES and provide a good starting point in better identifying areas for improvement. Key survey findings include:
- One in five respondents indicated high levels of understanding of the EES (18% rating 'top three' box or 8-10 where 10 = completely understand) while a comparable proportion indicated low levels of understanding of the EES (20% rating 'bottom three' box or 1-3 where 1 = do not understand al all)
- Classroom Observations reflected the highest levels of reported understanding (36%) and the Hawaii Student Growth Model the lowest (12%)
- One in five respondents indicated strong agreement ('top three' box or 8-10 rating where 10 = strongly agree) that they have applied the EES information towards improving their professional practice (18%), their instructional practice (18%), and toward improving student growth and learning (18%)
- An emerging theme identified in the survey was providing teachers more time to prepare for the various requirements within the components, more guidance and clarity, and providing examples of successful stories by distinguished teachers
"The Department of Education is actively engaged in an ongoing data review process that involves working with teachers, principals and other groups," said Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. "The EES is intended to provide timely, actionable and professional feedback, and support to improve teacher practice and student outcomes. We're grateful to the teachers and various groups who are ensuring that the system fairly assesses the effectiveness of educators. This survey will be used as part of a collective process to help better understand strengths and identify areas for improvement."
"The HSTA's goal is to make sure that every child in Hawaii has access to the best teachers in our public school system," said Wil Okabe, HSTA president. "When we started this process, we agreed that the Joint Committee of DOE and HSTA representatives would gather data and feedback from our members in order to implement collaborative adjustments and improvements to the EES."
"The joint survey reflected what we have been hearing from teachers. That the EES is a work in progress, and teachers feel that more needs to be done so that the EES can help improve the practice of teaching. Our teachers clearly expressed the need for more time to implement the EES, more guidance, and more clarity of the expectations and process," said Okabe.
"We are committed to the EES and will continue to collaborate with the DOE to improve this system and develop a fair and effective resource that should be designed to, ultimately, improve our educational system for Hawaii's students," added Okabe.
The committee has met four times over the last nine months and provided areas of potential recommendations to Superintendent Matayoshi, including:
- Improving support for implementation (e.g. training structure, educator engagement strategy),
- Solutions for new teachers (e.g. personnel consequences for SY 13-14 first-year teachers, differentiating evaluation criteria for first and second year teachers),
- Supporting structures for teachers based on EES feedback and results (e.g. searchable database for teachers to find quality professional development opportunities based on area of need),
- Transitioning between student assessments (impact on student growth as the state shifts from the Hawaii State Assessments, to the bridge assessments, and Smarter Balanced Assessments),
- Differentiating frequency of evaluation components within the annual evaluation cycle, based on the needs of teachers,
- Reviewing scoring methodology for the Tripod student perception survey, and
- Monitoring the use of multiple measures.
The Joint Committee is one of several feedback groups the DOE relies upon for structured input about EES. Other groups include the Teacher Leader Workgroup and Technical Advisory Group and a newly established Principal Workgroup.
"The survey results reinforce priority issues that are being discussed by the Joint Committee and raise some additional concerns for further discussion," noted Matayoshi. "Teachers, administrators and the HSTA are all involved in this process, and this is just the beginning."
The DOE and HSTA are committed to working together to improve the EES and teacher feedback is an important part of the improvement process. Following the first full year of implementation, the DOE will make any design improvements necessary based on reviews of data and consideration of feedback from the field.