Leadership magazine March/April 2018 V47 No. 4 | Page 38

Building a teacher professional growth system THE (NOT SO FAST OR STRAIGHT) LINE TO CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT Robla SD is on a journey to innovate an educator evaluation system that embraces accountability and continuous improvement, redefining how instructional leaders think about professional growth and how they support that growth. 38 Leadership Resourcing Excellence in Edu- cation (REEd), an educational intermediary housed in the UC Davis School of Educa- tion, approached Robla School District in 2015 with a request to participate in a federal Improving Teacher Quality (ITQ ) grant to help demonstrate that teacher eval- uation could be used to empower teachers and help them grow professionally. Superintendent Ruben Reyes took the re- quest to his teachers union and administra- tive team and both parties agreed to serve as a pilot district. Among the appealing parts of the request was the opportunity to build a “home-grown” model, as that is how this K-6 northern Sacramento urban district likes to operate. Robla serves approximately 2,500 students, 43 percent of whom are English learners and 92 percent are desig- nated for free or reduce-priced meals. Now, three years later, Robla is fully com- mitted to the creation of a formal practitio- ner review process that is moving the district closer to its emerging vision of educator ef- fectiveness. By way of background, the Stull Act, originally passed in 1971, is the major Cali- fornia state legislation governing teacher evaluation. For good or bad – depending on one’s perspective – that law has remained es- sentially unchanged, as have the evaluation systems put into place by individual districts in response. The 2002 re-authorization of the Elemen- tary and Secondary Education Act as No Child Left Behind, with its strong focus on accountability, contributed to a nationwide interest in re-thinking what it means to be an effective teacher and the value of evalua- tion in teacher improvement efforts. California’s engagement in the renewed conversations contributed to the develop- ment of the California Teachers Association Teacher Evaluation Framework (2012) and introduced language to amend the 1971 Ed- ucation Code in Senate Bill 499 introduced in 2015. Ultimately, the EdCode was not amended and the state elected to continue its pursuit of a policy path driven by local- control. The ITQ grant funding the work in Robla rolled out through the California Depart- By Susan O’Hara, Joanne Bookmyer, Robin Martin, Renee Newton and Ruben Reyes