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Action Step and Orientation

R2. Connect teacher accountability with literacy initiatives outlined in the data-informed plan for improving literacy instruction.

In this lesson, you and your colleagues will be considering how to connect teacher accountability with literacy initiatives outlined in your data-informed plan for improving literacy instruction.

Part 1 focuses on communicating initiatives of your data-informed plan to staff, including the expectations for teachers and how their efforts and participation will be documented for appraisal purposes.

In Part 2, you will consider ways to provide feedback to teachers on their level of participation and on their effectiveness or quality of implementation of the literacy initiatives at your school.

To get started, download the Implementation Guide for this component and refer to the Action Step for this lesson. Review the Implementation Indicators for each level of implementation and note the Sample Evidence listed at the bottom of the chart.

Part 1—Communicate Expectations of Your Data-informed Plan for Improving Literacy Instruction

The foundation for Action Step R2 is your data-informed plan for improving literacy instruction, which outlines the literacy initiatives your school is working on. You and your team need to ensure that staff clearly understands the goals and activities outlined in your plan. Administrators need to clearly communicate expectations for staff regarding these initiatives.

The data-informed plan for your campus outlines what actions you plan to take as a staff to improve literacy outcomes for your students. Your teachers need to know what these initiatives are, what the goals for them are, and how they are expected to participate in these initiatives. This information should be very specific about what teachers are expected to do, such as attend professional development, engage in professional learning community (PLC) book studies, and incorporate targeted practices into their lesson plans and delivery. Setting expectations means letting teachers know exactly what they are expected to do, when, and how.

Framing the discussion around data and placing the focus on student performance can help prevent some of the negativity that can arise around teacher evaluation. The question should be “Is the program of instruction working for each student? If not, why not?” From this perspective, information about teacher performance is useful data about what support might be needed to increase the consistency and fidelity of implementation of an instructional program or routine.

The goal of clearly communicating expectations is to set staff up for success. It is also important to inform your staff of the support that will be provided to assist them in meeting the goals of the initiatives of your data-informed plan for improving literacy instruction. This support could include book study, professional learning communities, coaching, peer-to-peer support, and a variety of other professional learning formats. You and your team will want to let teachers know that using these supports is highly encouraged and will have a positive impact on their evaluations.

Each campus needs a system for documentation of teachers’ implementation of campus initiatives. As leaders, you will use these data for multiple purposes: to allocate resources such as professional development and coaches or mentors; to make staffing decisions such as identifying high-performing teachers as instructional leaders or recognizing model classrooms; and to inform individual teacher appraisal.

When you and your team communicate the expectations to staff, you will want to ensure that you explain the system you will use for documentation and how that information will be used. This system should be set up and presented to teachers as a way to give them recognition for efforts and support when needed. They also need to know that their efforts to improve—trying out targeted practices in the classroom and making use of support provided by coaches and other instructional leaders—will have a positive impact on their appraisals. Although teacher appraisal can be a touchy subject, when used with this positive mindset, it can be one more tool for ongoing campus and individual professional growth. The overall goal is to promote high-quality instruction that leads to improved student literacy.

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TO LEARN MORE: You and your team may find it useful to review the following state guidelines and legislation related to teacher appraisal systems:

Commissioner's Rules Concerning Educator Appraisal

Recommended Appraisal Process and Performance Criteria

The Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS) is one type of teacher appraisal system. Many regional Education Service Centers provide training and information on the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System.

Part 2—Provide Feedback to Staff

The foundational principle behind the appraisal system is to improve instruction in every classroom. Providing feedback to teachers is essential for growth and improvement. A growth-minded school will provide feedback throughout the year and not just evaluate teachers at the end of the year.

As with instruction of students, professionals can learn and enhance their craft through targeted, supportive feedback. Instructional leaders at your campus will need to document and provide feedback to teachers on how much and how well staff are participating in and working on the targeted literacy initiatives.

Documenting the level of engagement in the literacy initiatives is the first step. Are teachers engaging in professional development, professional learning community meetings, and other events laid out in your data-informed plan (or Action Step Implementation Plan, as described in the Implementation module)? Are they including the targeted practices and routines in their lesson plans and lesson delivery? Your documentation should be directly tied to the specific expectations presented to the staff.

Here your leaders are looking at how much each teacher is participating in the literacy initiatives at the compliance level. Feedback about compliance lets teachers know that administrators have documented their efforts. This can serve both to encourage those who may be struggling and to provide positive feedback to those who have been working to meet the expectations. It can mean a lot to say, “I noticed you incorporated that vocabulary routine we discussed in PLCs last week. Keep at it!”

In addition to this first level of feedback on engagement or participation, teachers also need constructive feedback on the quality of their implementation of literacy initiatives. This might be a post-observation conference about how well they are delivering that vocabulary routine, for example. When classroom visits take place on a regular basis and not just at the end of the year, these feedback conferences can be “formative” assessments, providing teachers with the opportunity to enhance their instructional practice. The appraisal, then, can be considered the “summative” assessment of their performance and can include their efforts and improvements over the course of the year as well as their participation in literacy initiative activities and use of supports as needed.

For feedback to be effective, administrators and other instructional leaders who observe teachers must have a high level of knowledge of the literacy initiatives and the targeted instructional practices that teachers are expected to implement. The best way to achieve this is for all instructional leaders and administrators to engage in professional development and participate in PLCs and other literacy initiative activities along with the staff.

Administrators and instructional leaders need to build trust and supportive relationships among staff and leadership. It is important to remember that the administrator has position power and is tasked with teacher appraisals, while literacy coaches and other teacher leaders are not involved in evaluating teachers. The literacy coach and campus-based leadership team must strive to maintain a supportive role with teachers.

Effective coaches are knowledgeable and experienced lifelong learners who foster and maintain a sense of trust and rapport with teachers. They provide supportive guidance that is confidential and based on professional ethics. From the outset, the campus-based leadership team needs to stress confidentiality between the coach and teacher (Center on Instruction, 2008). The focus on instruction—rather than on judging teachers or students—helps create a collaborative culture in which teachers are supported and are encouraged to try new practices and tools as they help students learn to read and write effectively.

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TO LEARN MORE: Some lessons in the Leadership module in this course provide additional information that you and your team may find useful as you consider how to document and communicate with staff about the connection between teacher accountability and the literacy initiatives in your data-informed plan.

See Lesson L4—Instructional leadership and Lesson L5—Coaching for improved literacy instruction for information about providing instructional leadership and establishing a coaching model that incorporates observation and feedback.

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NEXT STEPS: Depending on your progress toward full implementation of Action Step R2, you might want to consider the following next steps:

  • Communicate to staff what is expected of them in relation to implementing the data-informed plan for improving literacy instruction.
  • Set up a system for documenting teachers’ efforts at implementation of literacy initiatives.
  • Develop a system for providing feedback.
  • Discuss ways to provide staff with feedback and to take the stress and anxiety out of receiving feedback.

Assignment

R2. Connect teacher accountability with literacy initiatives outlined in the data-informed plan for improving literacy instruction.

With your site/campus-based leadership team, review your team’s self-assessed rating for Action Step R2 in the TSLP Implementation Status Ratings document and then respond to the four questions in the assignment.

TSLP Implementation Status Ratings K–5

In completing your assignment with your team, the following resources and information from this lesson’s content may be useful to you:

  • Refer to Part 1 for discussion of communicating with staff about the connection between the initiatives of the data-informed plan and teacher accountability.
  • Refer to Part 2 for information about providing feedback to staff on their participation and quality of implementation in literacy initiative activities.

Next Steps also contains suggestions that your campus may want to consider when you focus your efforts on this Action Step.

To record your responses, go to the Assignment template for this lesson and follow the instructions.

References

Center on Instruction. (2008). Leading for reading: An introductory guide for K–3 reading coaches. Portsmouth, NH: RMC Research Corporation.

Texas Administrative Code. (2016). Commissioner's Rules Concerning Educator Appraisal. 150.1007 (a)(2)(C)(ii).

Texas Education Code. (2016). Recommended appraisal process and performance criteria. 21.351-a-2.