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Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC)

faqs General FAQs about Teacher & Principal Evaluation

What does the Performance Evaluation Reform Act mean?
In 2010, Gov. Pat Quinn signed the Performance Evaluation Reform Act (PERA), which requires all schools in Illinois to change how teachers’ and principals’ performance is measured.

How will it change how teachers are evaluated?
PERA requires districts to design and implement performance evaluation systems that assess teachers’ and principals’ professional skills as well as incorporate measures of student growth. District administrators must work with teachers’ union representatives to develop evaluation systems that incorporate student growth. School districts and the state must ensure that these performance evaluation systems are valid and reliable and help teachers and principals to better improve student outcomes.

Teacher evaluation systems will provide clear descriptions of professional excellence so everyone understands what great teaching means. The evaluations will be based on standards of effective practice, with evaluators trained and pre-qualified to conduct observations, collect evidence, and provide helpful, timely feedback. The new evaluations will add objectivity to a practice that almost universally was subjective.

And beginning September 1, 2012, both teachers and administrators in all districts (even those that have not yet adopted new evaluation systems) must be rated using one of these four performance categories:

Districts have two options for adopting a new system that incorporates student growth measures into teacher evaluations. A school district can develop its own system that meets minimum standards mandated by state rules; or it can choose to use all or portions of a state-designed optional model.

The classroom observation portion of the state-designed optional evaluation system is being adapted from Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Professional Practice, widely used for evaluations by districts across the country. Danielson’s system emphasizes research-based practices that promote student learning and explain what teachers should know and do. It also incorporates evidence, such as lesson plans and student work, to support various ratings, and considers cultural and developmental issues that can affect teaching.

How will it change how principals are evaluated?
Beginning in September 2012, all principals must be evaluated every year by trained and pre-qualified evaluators. Evaluations of principals will be required to incorporate student achievement growth as a significant factor, and the State Board of Education will have developed a model principal evaluation plan that school districts may choose to use. Similar to teachers, principals will also be evaluated based on standards of effective practice that include clear descriptions of what excellent school leadership means. 

What process is the state using to create this system?
A special advisory group, the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC), is charged with providing input from educators to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and monitoring PERA development and implementation. Among other responsibilities, they will make recommendations to ISBE later this year in two major areas: rules for districts wanting to develop their own teacher and principal evaluation systems; and recommendations for a statewide model for principal evaluation and a default/optional model for teacher evaluation. The PEAC has more than 30 members, including teachers, administrators, and union leaders.

Based on PEAC’s recommendations, the state board then will develop more detailed evaluation rules later this fall; ISBE expects to finalize evaluation system rules in spring 2012.

Will all teachers and principals be evaluated this way? When?
All teachers and principals in Illinois will eventually be evaluated using new evaluation systems, either those developed at the local level or a state model. Each district will phase in its new evaluation system between fall 2012 and fall 2016.

New Evaluation Systems Change
All Illinois school districts must adopt a written principal evaluation system that incorporates measures of student achievement growth
Sept. 1, 2012
Evaluators must be trained and pre-qualified in order to conduct evaluations using a new system
All Illinois principals begin to be evaluated under a new system
At least 300 Chicago public schools must begin evaluating teachers using a new system that incorporates student growth measures
Any school receiving federal School Improvement Grants must begin evaluating teachers using a new system that incorporates student growth measures
All remaining Chicago public schools must evaluate teachers using a new system that incorporates student growth measures
Sept. 1, 2013
A research-based study of the effectiveness school district evaluation systems will be completed
Sept. 1, 2014
The lowest-performing 20% of school districts must begin using new teacher evaluation systems that incorporate student growth measures
Sept. 1, 2015
All Illinois school districts must begin using new teacher evaluation systems that incorporate student growth measures
Sept. 1, 2016

Who will be evaluating teachers and principals?
Teachers and principals may be evaluated by any evaluator who successfully completes training and a pre-qualification. Any evaluator undertaking an evaluation after September 1, 2012 (whether or not the evaluation incorporates student growth measures) must successfully complete a pre-qualification program provided or approved by the State.

How will evaluators be trained and pre-qualified?
The State is developing a pre-qualification program as well as a training program for all evaluators. The training will most likely include a combination of face-to-face instruction and online lessons, as well as materials explaining evaluation standards in detail, how to provide helpful feedback, and video examples of best teaching practices.

Superintendents, principals, and other evaluators can expect more specific directives from ISBE this fall regarding requirements and deadlines that they must meet.

How often will teachers and principals be evaluated?
Teachers with tenure will be evaluated every other year, though a tenured teacher rated “Needs Improvement” or “Unsatisfactory” in any one year will be evaluated the following year. Teachers without tenure will be evaluated every year. Principals will be evaluated every year.

Evaluation Every Year
Evaluation Every Other Year
Non-tenured teachers
Tenured teachers rated “Proficient” or “Excellent”
Tenured teachers rated “Needs Improvement” or “Unsatisfactory”
Any teacher may be subject to an evaluation during a principal’s first year at a school

Will the new evaluation system affect pay?
There is currently no state requirement to connect teacher or principal evaluation systems to compensation.

How can educators contribute to the development of the State’s evaluation processes and rules?
Teachers and administrators will have multiple chances to share their views.

First, the public is welcome to attend the Performance Evaluation Advisory Committee’s (PEAC) monthly meetings as recommendations are crafted this summer and fall. Meeting dates and more information can be found at www.isbe.net/PEAC/meetings/meeting.htm.

Second, the PEAC will be seeking input from teachers, administrators, parents, and the public through a series of meetings across the state this fall, as well as through online surveys and discussion groups.

Third, the state board will have a 45-day public comment period after it releases its draft rules later this fall. Please visit http://www.isbe.net/rules/proposed/default.htm to learn more about how to comment.

How is “student growth” defined?
Educators on PEAC’s teacher and principal subcommittees are working to recommend what “student growth” means for both principals and teachers. The measurement may include a combination of national, district and teacher-developed tests.

What professional development opportunities are being offered?
Evaluators will be trained and prequalified to use the new system, and educators receiving evaluations will be briefed how the new evaluation system works.  

Will teachers of students with special needs be evaluated the same way as other teachers?
Evaluators will work with all teachers to develop measures of student growth appropriate for every classroom.

Why is the state making these changes?
Studies have shown that some current evaluation systems don’t accurately or objectively measure how teachers or principals are doing, or identify their strengths and areas for growth. Moreover, most current evaluation systems do not formally connect student growth measures with educator performance. And professional development is too rarely linked to performance evaluation results.

Who was involved in developing the PERA legislation?
A coalition of the Governor, the State Board of Education, union leaders, school management groups, Illinois legislators, and other groups backed the reform of teacher and principal evaluation as a way to support Illinois educators as they help Illinois children perform to their highest potential.

What will it mean for Illinois public school students?
More effective evaluation systems have the potential to offer teachers a clearer picture of what’s happening in their classrooms and principals a clearer picture of what’s happening in the schools. Effectively implemented, these systems will provide more opportunities for educators to reflect on their practice, receive constructive feedback, and expand opportunities for professional growth. Hand in hand with new evaluation systems, districts will be expected to strengthen their professional development offerings so that educators get the support they need to help their students improve. The ultimate goal of this evaluation reform is ensuring that every child in Illinois has an outstanding teacher and principal.

Have other states made similar changes? Were they successful?
Many school districts around the nation have begun work to improve teacher evaluation systems, in some cases incorporating student growth measures.

What happens if state supports are not available to meet the required PERA implementation timelines?
The implementation deadlines are delayed. 

Are teacher and principal evaluations protected from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests?
Yes. Individual educators’ evaluations will not be available to the public.