“Essential Indicators” for Teacher Evaluation

This summer, the DESE released a revised Classroom Teacher Rubric for the Massachusetts Teacher Evaluation System.  Because some parts of the revised rubric represent a substantial change from the previous document, it became necessary for HWRSD’s Leadership Team to revisit the “focused elements” in our own evaluation system.  The Leadership Team used the following essential questions to shape this work:


  1. What do we want students to know and be able to do as a result of our instruction?
  2. How will we know when students have mastered these essential skills and competencies?
  3. What are the best methods of instruction to teach students the knowledge and skills we’ve identified as “essential” for all students?
  4. How will we respond when students demonstrate they have not yet mastered these skills and competencies?  Alternately, what will we do when students exceed the defined standard level of performance?
  5. How will we share the results of student learning in order to access the home and community resources necessary to support our work?

These essential questions have guided our improvement and professional development initiatives over the past six years.  Here’s a sample of the strides we’ve taken towards answering our Essential Questions:  

These are just a few examples of the great work we’ve accomplished over the past six years.  As we look towards our next Strategic Blueprint, our future improvement and professional development initiatives will continue to be guided by our Essential Questions.  


As the the Leadership Team reviewed and discussed the DESE’s revised Classroom Teacher Evaluation Rubric, we felt it was important that our Teacher Evaluation System also reflect our continued work towards answering our Essential Questions while supporting the work that is already underway.  As a result of these discussions, we selected the new “Essential Indicators” listed below because we felt they reflected our emphasis on our Essential Questions.  

The Four “Essential Indicators”


“Standard I, Indicator A.  Curriculum and Planning.” (Essential Questions #1 and #3)  This indicator focuses on the practitioner’s development of clear expectations for what students should know and be able to do as a result of the teacher’s instruction and the development of unit and lesson plans that are intentionally designed to support students’ mastery of these objectives.  In designing effective learning experiences, teachers combine their expertise in child and adolescent development and their knowledge of their individual subject matter with their understanding of what constitutes effective instruction.    


“Standard II, Indicator C.  Student Learning” (Essential Question #2)  The ultimate goal of our work as educators is student learning.  This indicator asks practitioners to document and report on student progress towards mastering learning objectives.  Student learning can be measured and reported in many ways, including through the use of portfolios of student work, capstone projects, and common assessments.  This indicator aligns most closely with the “Student Learning Goal” that teachers must define at the beginning of their evaluation cycle.  Evidence towards accomplishing the Student Learning Goal may also be used to demonstrate proficiency on this Indicator.  As is the case with Student Learning Goals, teachers who share grade or course levels may decide to work collaboratively to document student learning.  This Indicator is unique in that it does not contain a specific rubric that describes specific levels of performance.  Practitioners should discuss with their evaluator how they are going to define student learning along with the methods and instruments they will use to measure student learning at the beginning of their evaluation cycle.  


“Standard III, Indicator B. Collaboration” (Essential Question #5) Practitioners regularly need to communicate with families in order both to share our objectives for student learning and to give parents feedback on student progress towards meeting these objectives.  The education of students today looks dramatically different from the school their parents attended.  We need to communicate to parents and community stakeholders the reasons why the schools their children are attending look so different from the schools they experienced.  This includes communicating the skills, abilities, and dispositions we know students will need in order to be successful in the future and communicating individual student progress towards meeting these standards.


“Standard IV. Indicator A.  Reflection (Essential Questions #3 and #4)  Reflection is an essential skill of the effective practitioner.  Developing objectives, designing assessments, delivering instruction, reviewing evidence of student learning, and responding appropriately based on student results is an iterative process that requires practitioners to constantly reflect on their actions and adjust their practice to improve student results.  The reflective process also requires practitioners to work with colleagues to plan collaboratively, to provide each other with constructive feedback, and to expand each other’s thinking about what constitutes effective student learning.

As was the case with the last set of focused indicators, practitioners who are evaluated on the “Classroom Teacher Rubric” should prepare written reflections on their progress towards proficiency on each of the four “Essential Indicators” and provide evidence demonstrating their proficiency as part of the materials they submit to their evaluators during the Formative and Summative Evaluation Cycles.

Revised DESE Teacher Evaluation Rubric


Curriculum, Planning, and Assessment 


Teaching All Students 


Family and Community Engagement 


Professional Culture

A. Curriculum and Planning Indicator

1. Subject Matter Knowledge

2. Child and Adolescent Development

3. Well-Structured Units and Lessons

B. Assessment Indicator

1. Variety of Assessment Methods

2. Adjustments to Practice 

C. Analysis Indicator

1. Analysis and Conclusions

2. Sharing Conclusions With Colleagues

3. Sharing Conclusions With Students

A. Instruction Indicator

1. Quality of Effort and Work

2. Student Engagement

3. Meeting Diverse Needs 

B. Learning Environment Indicator

1. Safe Learning Environment

2. Collaborative Learning Environment

3. Student Motivation

C. Student Learning Indicator

D. Cultural Proficiency Indicator

1.  Creates and Maintains a Respectful Environment

E. Expectations Indicator

1. High Expectations

2. Access to Knowledge

A. Engagement Indicator

1. Family Engagement 

B. Collaboration Indicator

1. Learning Expectations

2. Curriculum Support

C. Communication Indicator

1. Culturally Proficient Communication

A. Reflection Indicator

1. Reflective Practice

2. Goal Setting

B. Professional Growth Indicator

1. Professional Learning and Growth

C. Collaboration Indicator

1. Professional Collaboration

D. Decision-Making Indicator

1. Decision-making

E. Shared Responsibility Indicator

1. Shared Responsibility

F. Professional Responsibilities Indicator

1. Judgment

2. Reliability and Responsibility

= “Essential Indicators”

For complete Educator Rubric, including descriptors at each level of performance please go to: http://www.doe.mass.edu/edeval/model/PartIII_AppxC.pdf