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Navigating Danielson and APR; Can Teacher Development and High-Stakes Evaluation Co-Exist?

Posted by D. Hansen on March 04, 2014

From protecting teachers to leveraging the Danielson Framework for school change, how are the NYC leaders navigating the new evaluation system in their schools?

On February 26th, the Bank Street community engaged in the first Weismann Dinner for 2014. Once again, the selected panel of distinguished educators did not disappoint and took on one of the most controversial issues facing leaders across New York City--navigating Danielson and the APPR. Each panelist openly and honestly shared their opinions and insights from their specific educational niche.

The panelitsts were Alan Cheng, the principal of City-As-School High School; Alison Hazut, the principal of The Earth School; Nicole Jernee, a DOE Talent Coach; and Gloria Roasario, the principal of West Brooklyn Community High School. To varying degrees the panelists saw value in the Danielson tool, but also had concerns about its use as a metric for determining teacher evaluations.

The panelists acknowledged how the Danielson Framework provides schools with a shared language of professional growth, but also presents challenges such as the amount of time needed and the cumbersome DOE reporting system. They also discussed the efforts leaders are making in the area of sustaining teacher growth. Throughout the discussion, presenters shared specific examples for how they have made critical decisions about using the Danielson Framework in their schools.

They discussed how they have learned to leverage the Danielson framework and evaluation system in ways that actually function to support and align with individual school visions. All panelists agreed that the Danielson Framework is indeed an effective tool to support teacher reflection, growth and development; however, the ways in which the DOE has chosen to apply the framework for teacher evaluation has, in some ways, gotten away from its original intentions.

In the end, each and every panelist delivered similar advice to prospective leaders and educators in the room. Leaders must adapt and utilize the Danielson Framework in a way that best meets the needs of teachers, aligns with the school vision, and works to improve student outcomes. Many schools already have successful collaborative reflection and growth systems of observation and evaluation in place.

Panelists urged leaders to incorporate the Danielson Framework into these existing systems to further deepen the conversations between teachers and leaders using a common language. This is no simple task, especially with growing compliance mandates, artifact collections, and navigating DOE systems like Advance, which often obstruct and intrude upon meaningful face-to-face conversations with teachers and diminish precious administrator time spent in classrooms.

Once again, panelists counseled leaders to hold true to and prioritize what is truly important: using a teacher improvement system and feedback loop that ultimately improves learning outcomes for students.

Reported by Jessica Fazekas and Lauren Halpern, Graduate Students, Leadership for Educational Change, class of 2014. 

tagged: danielson, educational change, leadership, weismann dinner