Kentucky’s NCLB waiver request depends in part on teacher/principal effectiveness system

From Education Commissioner Terry Holliday’s Fast Five on Friday
Nov. 4, 2011



In order for Kentucky to receive a waiver and flexibility from No Child Left Behind requirements, we will implement our Unbridled Learning Plan that meets the waiver requirements issued by the U.S. Department of Education.

The three major requirements are a college- and career-ready plan, a differentiated accountability model, and a teacher and principal effectiveness system. The first two have been highly publicized and communicated not only in Kentucky but the Kentucky model has been reviewed and utilized by several states as they prepare their waiver applications.


The teacher and principal effectiveness system in our state has not been finalized to the extent that the other two areas have been extensively developed; however, the plan is being addressed by two statewide committees of stakeholders (one for the teacher portion of the system and the other for the principal portion) and over 50 districts that are field-testing the processes for statewide teacher and principal evaluation/effectiveness. Thus, I will briefly highlight the requirements of the teacher/principal effectiveness system.

As a state, we must address six components within the teacher/principal effectiveness system in our waiver proposal and the Kentucky Board of Education must adopt the system prior to June 30, 2012.  The components are as follows:

* Continuous improvement of instruction

* Meaningful differentiation of teacher/principal performance using at least 3 performance levels

* Multiple measures of effectiveness including use of student growth data (both state standardized tests and formative growth measures that are rigorous and comparable across schools in a local district) as a significant factor

* Regular evaluation (most likely annual)

* Clear and timely feedback to include opportunities for professional development

* Use of the system to inform personnel decisions

Be assured that we will not finalize the teacher/principal effectiveness system until we complete a statewide pilot and gain feedback from teachers and principals.  The process for that to happen is built into our waiver application.

For those interested in the specifics, go to the Web site review the ESEA flexibility guidance (page 5, #3) and also the student growth definition (page 9, #8).

Our statewide committees and field test districts will be looking closely at the details for implementing the six requirements. By the end of the 2012-13 school year, we will have the model ready for adoption by local school districts. Should a district prefer to utilize its own system of effectiveness/evaluation, the district would be required to submit the system to the Kentucky Department of Education for approval (same process we have now); however, KDE review and approval would be based on the district proposal meeting the requirements of the waiver.

As commissioner, I have publicly made the following commitments on a number of occasions and will encourage the Kentucky Board of Education to adopt similar guiding principles concerning student growth as part of a teacher and principal evaluation system:

  • We will meet the federal requirement of using student growth as a significant factor in teacher/principal evaluation.
  • We will not support student growth as a sole factor in informing personnel decisions.
  • Student growth should inform evaluation and effectiveness; however, student growth metrics must meet high levels of rigor, fairness, validity and reliability.
  • Student growth validity and reliability are much improved with multiple years of data (three or more).
  • It is much more important what teachers and principals DO to improve instruction and leadership based on the use of student growth data rather than the relative ranking of the school or classroom against other schools or classrooms.


There will be other guiding principles that our teacher and principal effectiveness committees and field test districts will add over the coming year. Also, we will hear directly from teachers and school districts in all districts when the simulation data around student growth are released. Kentucky will move slowly and cautiously in this area.

We have intentionally collaborated with our education partners and involved schools and districts in the design process. The system will consist of multiple measures including student growth, professional growth, artifacts and evidences, student/parent voice, teacher self-reflection, and possibly peer/teacher-leader observations. 

The Kentucky Board of Education set the vision to have every student taught by an effective teacher and every school led by an effective principal. The strategic plan of the Kentucky Department of Education includes a specific goal to create a fair and equitable system to measure teacher and leader effectiveness.

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