In 2010, the Georgia Board of Education was awarded a $400 million federal grant to implement Race to the Top (RT3). The purpose of RT3 is to encourage and reward states that are working toward education innovation and reform in four areas:
Recruiting, preparing, rewarding and retaining effective teachers and principals;
Adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace and to compete in the global economy;
Building data systems to measure student growth and help improve instruction; and
Turning around Georgias lowest-performing schools.
As part of the RT3 initiative, Georgia implemented the Teacher Keys Effectiveness System, or TKES, an evaluation method based on a common definition of teacher effectiveness consistent across school districts. The primary purposes of TKES are to optimize student learning and growth, improve the quality of instruction by ensuring accountability for classroom performance and teacher effectiveness, and contribute to successful achievement of the vision, mission and goals of Georgia public schools.
TKES consists of multiple measures focused on 10 standards: professional knowledge, instructional planning, instructional strategies, differentiated instruction, assessment strategies, assessment uses, positive learning environment, academically challenging environment, professionalism and communication. A major component of this system is classroom observations by administrators to document the 10 standards. Students will also complete surveys about their teachers performance. In addition, teachers will be evaluated based on student performance as measured by state assessments or student learning objectives for teachers of courses that do not have state assessments.
Principals and assistant principals will also be evaluated with a new instrument: Leader Keys Effectiveness System, or LKES. The eight LKES standards focus on instructional leadership, school climate, planning and assessment, organizational management, human resources management, staff evaluation, professionalism and communication/community relations.
Houston County is piloting TKES this school year, and our administrators have recently completed training on this new instrument. This year each administrator will evaluate two teachers using TKES. The teachers who are evaluated will assist principals in redelivering the content to the remaining faculty in preparation for full implementation to take place during the 2014-2015 school year.
Houston County is already a high-performing district. Over time, our school cultures and practices are expected to be even better. TKES, Common Core Georgia Performance Standards and the College and Career Ready Performance Index are all moving Georgias public education in the right direction. Houston County is proud to be at the forefront of this transformational movement.
Robin Hines in superintendent of Houston County schools.