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Research Partnership Supports Effective Educators in Massachusetts

From 2012 to 2015, the research team including Abt Global and SRI International studied the implementation of a new system to improve educator effectiveness in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The research was conducted for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE).

The new system was launched in 2011 as part of an ambitious effort to restructure how educators are evaluated with its new Educator Evaluation Framework (EEF). The EEF’s primary purpose is to promote educator growth and development. It incorporates multiple measures of educator practice and student learning, recognizes excellence in teaching and learning, sets a high bar for Professional Teacher Status, and shortens timelines for improvement.

Over the course of the implementation study, ESE and the research team worked collaboratively to administer statewide teacher and principal surveys, develop case studies of select districts, conduct an analysis of educator evaluation files, and identify evaluation-related practices, materials, and tools that support successful implementation. A few interesting findings include:

  • Teachers were unclear about the focus of the evaluation framework. Teachers located in districts that received concerted communications about the EEF’s purpose were more likely to view the effort as a way to promote teacher’s professional growth and development. By contrast, those with less knowledge about the framework’s purpose were more likely to view the effort as a way to implement greater accountability;
  • Educators had mixed views about the value of the framework’s evaluation components. Teachers and principals appreciated the framework’s opportunities to collaborate and reflect on instructional practices, such as goal-setting, observations, and feedback. However, most teachers considered evidence collection a distraction from classroom practice; and
  • Surveyed principals and teachers were confident that evaluators had the appropriate knowledge and skills to effectively conduct the evaluations. Nevertheless, evaluators of teachers and other staff – primarily principals – indicated that they struggled to balance their responsibilities and ensure consistency. Perceived inconsistencies led teachers and school staff to question the system’s fairness.

The research briefs below represent some of the diverse methods and products that contributed critical information to state program and policy development as well as local decision making.

Read more about this research:
Research brief:

Case study briefs:

Artifact briefs: