Evaluations & Data-driven Growth
How Frontline Professional Growth provides real-world, actionable data to Lexington School District Two – resulting in better decisions and increased learning.
Lexington School District 2 at a Glance:
Location: W. Columbia, South Carolina
K-12 Enrollment: 8,919
- 700 certified staff
- 450 support staff
- 35 administrators
As the world becomes more complex, Lexington School District Two is transforming itself into a highly innovative district that excels in preparing all students for continuous learning and career success. Building new and innovative partnerships among parents, students, staff and the community will improve the lives of generations of students and their families.
Making that happen requires seamless support from all departments and a focus on using actionable data to improve instruction. Angela Cooper, Chief Human Resource Officer, worked hard to lay the groundwork. She wanted to connect data on professional learning to student growth and graduation rates. Her plan was to find a system that could track teacher progress all the way from initial hiring to evaluation. Driven by the need to find a database that could store the necessary employee records, she was determined to find a solution.
“We needed a simplistic solution that was far-reaching, that was not limiting, that was user-friendly, that would have a component for employee growth and capacity.” — Angela Cooper, Chief Human Resource Officer
She wanted to connect data on professional learning to student growth and graduation rates. Her plan was to find a system that could track teacher progress all the way from initial hiring to evaluation.
Dr. Cooper began by beta testing and piloting the Applicant Tracking component of Frontline Recruiting & Hiring. Consolidating 11 or 12 color-coded applications for different teaching positions was a huge first step. Access to online recruiting tools made finding and hiring top candidates easier, especially since all the application forms were available electronically.
“We had a resource for our applicants without walls that was real-time oriented, web-based, and allowed us to reach farther and wider.” — Angela Cooper
While Lexington 2 found Frontline Recruiting & Hiring to be a valuable asset in finding and hiring top candidates, they needed a solution to manage professional learning and evaluations at the same time. When Kevin Smoak joined the HR team as the Coordinator for Evaluation and Effectiveness, he was tasked with starting the search for a management tool that could not only track professional learning but could help the district transition to the new state teaching standards rubric for educator evaluation. He found the solution in Frontline Professional Growth.
The Right Tools to Manage Teacher Evaluation & Growth
The ability to develop custom forms evolved into a comprehensive HR system affectionately named MODEL: designed for Managing Optimal Development for the Educational Leader. MODEL is Lexington 2’s unique storage solution for organizing documents by job category and user access, allowing district leaders to monitor the evaluation and growth of all teachers and principals.
“We linked evaluation and growth of all of our teachers and principals to on-time graduation rates, which comes from getting aggregated data from instruction and then applying it to those particular teachers and the actual data in their classrooms.” — Angela Cooper
Using actionable data that connected instruction to graduation rates was a tremendous advantage. The district saw an increase in their graduation rate from 75.5% to 87.4% in four years, exceeding the 2017 state average of 84.6%.
It was the implementation of the evaluation tools in Frontline Professional Growth that changed the game and took the HR department to the next level.
Making Change Worth the Effort
As the South Carolina Department of education prepares to launch new teaching standards for educator evaluation, Lexington 2 is ready to hit the ground running.
The state’s new rubric and the addition of SLOs to the teacher evaluation process will ultimately increase student growth. When teachers monitor student learning more closely, their instruction has to adjust to meet the needs of their students. However, it’s no surprise that adopting a new evaluation model is a major change for educators.
The new rubric is a shift from the previous model both in its language and design. With Frontline Professional Growth, Kevin has reduced the new state forms into smaller pieces. Making paperwork easier for teachers means they can focus on their students.
“The South Carolina Teaching Standards 4.0 is a coaching model. You evaluate a teacher and then the teacher will self-reflect and self-evaluate using the same rubric. It’s formative, so it’s not a ‘gotcha’ moment. It’s about how can you learn from this and grow.” — Kevin Smoak, Coordinator for Evaluation and Effectiveness
Helping Teachers Grow
“I can run reports on how all my first-year teachers are doing and see what they’re struggling in. I can break it down by school, by contact level or district-wide. I can find the average score of every indicator of the new rubric. That allows me to know what I need to focus on to help them.” — Kevin Smoak
Running specific reports makes keeping track of evaluations much faster and easier. In the past, no reports were available. Monitoring teacher growth for 50 first-year teachers meant looking at each individual form one at a time. It took hours! Now, running a single report shows all of that data immediately.
In the past, monitoring teacher growth for 50 first-year teachers took hours. Now, a single report shows all of that data immediately.
Not only can Kevin keep track of which forms have been completed by administrators, but he can also easily find out how the first-year teachers are doing. A red flag score may indicate the need for more support from a mentor teacher or additional training in a specific area.
Using a virtual learning platform, Kevin guides discussions about professional learning with teachers and their mentors across the district. Meeting virtually, they talk in small groups about the new rubric, areas of strength and ways to improve instruction.
Maximizing Technology to Simplify Tasks
Teachers and administrators are learning to use a new evaluation program while integrating the new state teaching standards at the same time. Investing extra time in creating forms up front allowed Lexington 2 to blend the new evaluation system and state teaching standards into a seamless experience, making implementation much more efficient. Kevin has used his own classroom experience to find ways to tailor the system into one that’s easy for new users by creating a roadmap and clearly identifying each step along the way.
“The intent of our state is that the student learning objectives will help students, help teachers monitor student learning, and impact their instruction. That relies on teacher buy-in. Using Frontline, I have revised a form that the State Department of Education gives us into bite-sized pieces. By making it easier for teachers to do, they can focus on their students learning and growing, and not going through a hoop to complete a form.” — Kevin Smoak
Onward and Upward!
Kevin is impressed by the capabilities of the system to create customized forms and works closely with Frontline to learn how to create new spreadsheets and reports. He wants to provide even more data for the district and its teachers.
Initially used mainly to promote professional learning for new teachers, Frontline Professional Growth also connects the student learning objectives (SLOs) set by all teachers to professional learning and student growth.
Having mastered the basics of the employee evaluation management tool and feeling passionate about what the system has the potential to do, Kevin plans to work with the Instruction department to expand the professional development program from first-year teachers to the entire district. Using evaluation results from the new teaching standards rubric with all teachers will provide actionable data district-wide.
Collaboration and Partnership
Collaboration and partnership with Frontline has built a strong sense of trust. Always willing to help, Frontline client success representatives respond quickly whether it’s to solve a problem for a teacher, create a new form that will aggregate data from a spreadsheet, or participate in roundtable discussions about professional learning and teacher evaluation.
“The Frontline help desk has been a tremendous asset, and that’s something that I promote when I tell other districts about the evaluation management program. Whenever I’ve had a problem, Frontline help desk has helped me quickly, and I’ve really appreciated that.” — Kevin Smoak