Despite an unexpected ice storm in Dallas, Empirical Education and its partner, Tulsa Public Schools (TPS), presented a session titled “Using Data to Make Teacher Observations More Reliable” at the Learning Forward conference in December. Teacher Evaluation Specialist K.C. MacQueen joined TPS’s Executive Director of Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Jana Burk to tell the story of how her district uses Observation Engine™ and the resulting data to inform and improve the training and certification process for Tulsa principals.
The two prepared a hands-on session that immersed the participants in the realities of teacher observation. Participants watched a video of a 6th grade ELA lesson and rated the instruction on a subset of the TPS rubric. The rest of the session used the real-time reporting available in Observation Engine as a platform to discuss the data and plan how to react to it. In addition, Jana shared how TPS used their initial findings to inform future training; for example, Tulsa is now using Observation Engine to focus on score rationales in an effort to improve the actionable feedback given by principals to their teachers. Ultimately, the workshop illustrated how TPS has and continues to improve inter-rater reliability among their evaluation staff.
Empirical’s CEO, Denis Newman, also attended the conference, participating in the announcement by School Improvement Network of their own branded version of the tool, called the Calibration and Certification Engine.