Representatives from 25 different BOCES from across the state gathered (again) this summer to collaborate on evaluator training. The APPR law and accompanying regulations spell out the requirement that evaluators of teachers and evaluators of principals receive training each year. Early on in The Race to the Top/Regents Reform Agenda era, the New York State Education Department provided training materials that Network Teams could use with their districts. SED hasn’t provided resources for a couple of years, however, so many BOCES get together to figure it out on their own.
Last year, the collaborative work was focused on the determination of “true scores” for a variety of teacher lessons. Accompanying artifacts were also created. The participating BOCES Network Teams used the videos and artifacts in their evaluator training during the 2013-2014 school year. Several videos of lessons were “scored,” so these resources will be useful in years to come, too.
This summer, the focus of statewide collaborative work was on Growth Producing Feedback. Based on the common understanding that the 20+20+60 APPR regulations don’t improve practice, but that effective feedback can influence practice, the representatives from the many BOCES prepared training materials, filmed videos, and created supported artifacts that can be used by BOCES Network Teams in their evaluator training in the future. People simply rolled up their sleeves and work on the collection and preparation of materials each other could use.
There are two important points in this story. One is the good news that collaboration among BOCES across the state is getting it done, picking up where SED left off and moving evaluator training from APPR compliance to instructional leadership. BOCES have long been the instructional leaders and change implementers in New York and this is just another example of that effective mechanism at work. The other point, also good news, is that there is a broadly shared understanding about the importance of Growth Producing Feedback across the state, in the field, and that there is agreement about impact that effective feedback can have on professional practice.
The 20+20+60 regulations and recently confounding changes don’t help. In fact, they get in the way. If the focus of APPR efforts is on improving the instructional conversations in our schools and exploring Growth Producing Feedback rather than regulatory compliance, then it just might make a difference. The BOCES Network Teams from across the state gets it!