On March 17, 2020, State Superintendent Molly Spearman offered a memorandum (memo) to school district personnel administrators and teacher evaluation administrators from Lilla Toal Mandsager, the Director of the Office of Educator Effectiveness and Leadership Development (OEELD). This memo permits flexibility in evaluating educators in the immediate future due to COVID-19 and outlines guidelines for reporting educator evaluations for classroom-based teachers, special areas, and incomplete evaluations.

Educator Evaluation Reporting Guidelines

Typically, the deadline for reporting classroom-based teacher and special areas evaluation data is June 20, and the intermediate dates for observations and final evaluation results are determined in each district’s annual ADEPT plan. For the 2019-20 school year however, OEELD stated that all ADEPT plan due dates will be granted automatic extensions until the reporting deadline. Additionally, the reporting deadline will be reexamined, and OEELD will request an extension of the 2020-21 ADEPT plan due date until July 1.

Circumstances differ for principals. September is the usual deadline for reporting that evaluation data. OEELD indicated that it will continue monitoring the 2019-20 spring semester to gather feedback on whether an extension to the September reporting deadline is needed.

Classroom-Based Teachers

Student Learning Objectives (SLOs)

SLOs are tools that offer actionable reflection and are used in teacher evaluations to measure student growth. SLOs are monitored over specific durations of time when students are with their teachers for instruction and possess certain requirements for special circumstances. In addition to the routine exceptions, for the 2019-20 school year, districts may allow teachers to extend the window for the final SLO assessment to the end of the school year. Furthermore, districts may allow evaluators to use the “Skip SLO” function if school closings prevented the administration of the final SLO assessment and/or the interval of instruction. For teachers undergoing goals-based evaluations, if the SLO has been “skipped,” a final status of “Met” or “Not Met” may still be reported. 

Formative Assessments

To the greatest extent possible, school districts should conduct the required number of formative observations for classroom-based teachers undergoing formative evaluations. Where school closings have inhibited the required number of formative observations, school districts may still report a final status of “Met,” “Not Met,” or “Incomplete” based on the available observation data. Districts are encouraged to modify, hold virtually, or cancel remaining induction professional learning sessions as necessary.

Summative Assessments

Similar to the formative assessments, school districts should also conduct the required number of summative observations for classroom-based teachers undergoing summative evaluation when possible. However, districts may report a final status of “Met” or “Not Met” if all required observations in the preliminary evaluation cycle and at least one required observation from the final evaluation cycle were conducted. Thus, teachers undergoing regular summative evaluation will receive feedback on at least three of the required four total observations, and teachers undergoing highly consequential summative evaluations will receive feedback on at least four of the required six total observations. School districts are encouraged to report an “Incomplete” status for teachers undergoing highly consequential summative evaluations that would otherwise have resulted in a “Not Met.”

Special Areas: School Counselors, School Librarians, and Speech Language Professionals

The OEELD encourages school districts to conduct the required evaluation process, if possible, for special area support staff undergoing formative or summative evaluation. When circumstances prohibit this, districts may report a final overall status of “Met,” “Not Met,” or “Incomplete” based on the available evaluation data.

Incomplete Evaluations, Next Year Contract Levels, and Employment

COVID-19 presents unexpected challenges that demand flexibility and a willingness to adjust from us all. The OEELD’s introduction of an “Incomplete” option for teacher evaluations during this unparalleled time provides both. Essentially, a teacher may receive an “Incomplete” evaluation status and is then eligible to repeat his/her contract level during the next year of employment. This option provides school districts with an alternative to assigning a “Met” or “Not Met” evaluation status when a teacher’s performance has been disturbed due to COVID-19 related matters. Accordingly, any teacher evaluations that determine a teacher has “Not Met” the recognized evaluation standard even with the availability of an “Incomplete” option are strongly encouraged to be supported by data, records, or other evidential support for the decision.

Analyze circumstance holistically and apply the OEELD guidelines as appropriate to each situation before making contract decisions. These evaluation provisions introduced by OEELD offer opportunities for teachers to have a second chance at successfully exhibiting their skills when there is not sufficient data to support a “Not Met” result.

White & Story understands the challenges presented by COVID-19 and continues to monitor the ever shifting legal landscape to assist school districts.