by Georgia Charter Schools Association
By Dr. Monica Henson
There has been a great deal of press for the past year concerning the new Teacher and Leader Keys Effectiveness System of educator evaluation in Georgia, popularly known as TKES & LKES. The majority of the hubbub has been due to (1) the use of student achievement outcomes and student surveys being factored into the teachers’ and administrators’ overall evaluation score annually; (2) the statutory requirement that all public school systems, which includes both districts and charter schools, use TKES & LKE; and (3) the perception of a “lack of flexibility” due to the State requirement. Because I don’t have a problem with either #1 or #2, this discussion will focus on #3.
First, a bit of context: I wrote my dissertation on the topic of how to increase teachers’ use of action research and ensuring that their own professional goals are connected directly to student achievement outcomes. My research question was whether training administrators to execute teacher evaluation instruments correctly and completely, and evaluating administrators on whether they do in fact follow the teacher supervision and evaluation instrument to the letter, will lead to those two objectives (they do), so TKES & LKES came as a welcome breath of fresh air to me as a statewide charter school superintendent. I have blogged in other venues over the past two years about the fact that TKES/LKES is a research-based instrument and I support its use.
Provost Academy Georgia (PAGA) is a Commission charter school that acts as a single-school statewide district serving more than 2,000 students across Georgia in a virtual classroom environment. Our at-risk students in urban areas have the option to attend blended-learning facilities, The Graduation Achievement Centers of Georgia. Needless to say, this is a unique situation with regard to supervision and evaluation of instructional staff. When we joined the pilot last year, it became clear as we worked to implement various elements that we needed some assistance figuring out how best to do so.
I approached Bethany Lemoyne, our Program Specialist, and Cindy Saxon, Associate Superintendent for Teacher & Leader Effectiveness at the Georgia Department of Education, and asked them if PAGA could take advantage of our Memoranda of Understanding with Kennesaw State University to seek advice on how best to customize TKES & LKES to meet the challenges of the blended learning environment. We were granted permission to do so, and we are working with guidance from Anissa Vega, Chair of the KSU Instructional Technology Department, and Mike Dishman, Associate Dean of the KSU Graduate College, who also happens to be a professor of education policy and governance and former chair of the KSU Educational Leadership Department.
An example of our work involves intensive review of job descriptions and creating crosswalks between the key knowledge, skills, and dispositions required to do a particular job and the TKES or LKES Standard and Indicators that are applicable. This process enables employees to see which of the Standards are weighted the most heavily in terms of importance to the organization. We have extended this process (cross-referencing the job description with performance evaluation standards and indicators) to our noninstructional staff, included clerical employees, because we found it to be such a valuable exercise.
We are excited to participate in the implementation of TKES & LKES in Georgia, and we are grateful for the flexibility that our Commission charter provides us. It is exciting to see GaDOE embrace this flexibility and permit us to exercise it to the fullest extent. We hope that our customized employee supervision and evaluation framework becomes a model that will be useful for other virtual schools, both charter and district. The beauty of chartering is the intersection of flexibility and innovation.
Dr. Monica Henson is superintendent and chief executive officer of Provost Academy Georgia.