EES:  Educator Effectiveness System a work in progress

HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER

ISLAND VOICES

ISLAND VOICES JOAN KAMILA LEWIS

Educator Effectiveness System a work in progress


By Joan Kamila Lewis

Improving the Educator Effectiveness System (EES) is by no means a walk in the park.

Since it was rolled out statewide this past school year, a joint committee of teachers and administrators from the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) and the state Department of Education (DOE) have worked to gather stakeholder feedback and discuss collaborative ways to improve the system.

Taking their feedback into consideration, the DOE recently announced a list of recommended changes to the EES. While there still is a lot of room for improvement, this is a work in progress and we cannot expect to create a perfect system overnight.

The DOE’s announcement of recommendations is just the first step in addressing significant concerns and improving a system that is meant to enhance the practice of teaching and benefit student learning.

Some have questioned these upcoming changes, and even the validity of the EES itself. A recent editorial by the Hono-lulu Star-Advertiser raised concerns about whether the EES “rating criteria should be tougher” since 98 percent of the teachers were rated effective or better (“Grading teachers can’t be too easy,” June 16, Our View).

To doubt these results is unfair and demeaning to our teachers, who jumped through hoops for this EES, a process that was so comprehensive that in many cases teachers felt they spent more time trying to prove they are good teachers than actually getting to be good teachers. Teachers are professionals. And through the EES results, it is clear that we know what we are doing.

Our efforts to help streamline and improve the EES are the actions of professionals who know their craft and want to continue improving it. These changes are not meant to reduce the value of the EES or to simplify our roles as educators. We are not trying to “diminish student voices” as mentioned in the Star-Advertiser editorial. Instead, these recommendations stem from listening to our students.

For example, the high levels of confusion and anxiety among younger students participating in the Tripod student survey made ending participation for lower elementary students a priority for our teach- ers. While we have no problem with evaluation, we will not subject our students to this kind of nonsense in the name of evaluation.

As educators, we are responsible for providing access to the best education and opportunities for our students. Doing what is best for them is our priority and our goal is to provide the skills necessary for students to one day take their place as productive citizens. And the benchmarks that matter should include the contributions of our public school graduates: a faster than predicted economic recovery; service to our country through the armed services; lower unemployment rates than the national average; higher college enrollment rates; and a generation of graduates who, on a regular basis, improve their communities through a host of endeavors.

Looking at snapshots along the educational journey (in whatever test score format they are) — rather than where that journey actually leads — is why we cannot see the value of public education, our public schools, our educators and students who prove their value daily.