New “Playbook” Guides States on Teacher Evaluation Reform

Thursday, December 13th, 2012


Teacher evaluation reform work should include five important tenets as policymakers work on evaluation programs in their states: give teachers a seat at the table and make them partners in reform; communicate with key audiences throughout the reform process; work toward the ultimate goal of professional growth and educator improvement; include non-tested subjects and grades in assessments; and innovate and constantly improve the evaluation system.


These are the leading recommendations of the Teacher Evaluation Playbook, an online resource that provides policymakers and other stakeholders advice, best practices and lessons learned from states going through the teacher evaluation reform process.  This free online toolkit was developed by Hope Street Group, a nonprofit, bipartisan organization dedicated to promoting economic opportunity for all Americans by identifying and promoting rational methods of incentivizing better outcomes.

To identify the best practices in designing teacher evaluation programs, developing large-scale communications strategies and engaging teachers, Hope Street Group conducted in-depth interviews with teachers, policymakers, union and state officials who are undertaking large scale, state-wide reform efforts. The Playbook provides guidance and ideas in the most challenging areas in educator evaluation reforms; including building educator feedback loops early; developing assessments at the start of the process; and expecting difficulties, and where to look for them, throughout the reform process.  Hope Street Group’s National Teacher Fellows, from 9 states, took a lead role in interviewing, researching and designing the Playbook.

“After extensive interviews with the stakeholders who were part of the first Race to the Top grants and others who have been tackling evaluation reform for years, as well as our own work in the teacher evaluation space, these 5 important tenets rose quickly to the top as the ‘must haves’ in all evaluation reform processes,” says Daniel Cruce, Vice President of Education, Hope Street Group. “These best practices, along with much more advice and lessons learned from these important states, policymakers and educators, are captured and scaled so other states can learn and move forward faster and smarter.”

Hope Street Group has been advocating for teacher-based evaluation reform as a path toward improving public education since 2007 when it released the comprehensive report, “Policy 2.0: Using Open Innovation to Reform Teacher Evaluation Systems,” which outlined new criteria for teacher evaluations in the K-12 education sector. Hope Street Group led the effort in convening teachers and other stakeholders to develop 3 of the 4 assurances that became the Race to the Top competitive grant program.  Through that work, Hope Street Group became engaged with five states deep in the process of reform, primarily the first Race to the Top recipients, Delaware and Tennessee, to track and implement effective implementation strategies.

Says Dr. Lillian M. Lowery, Maryland State Superintendent of Schools, “Without question, designing and implementing a new teacher evaluation system is a difficult and sometimes contentious process.  While states may face different specific circumstances, Hope Street Group’s Playbook showcases the common challenges most everyone will face and provides a roadmap for reaching consensus and approval by the variety of stakeholders.”

“Hope Street Group’s Playbook is a valuable resource for states interested in improving their teacher evaluation system,” said Gera Summerford, high school math teacher and Tennessee Education Association president. “As a teacher, I am pleased to see such emphasis on tying professional development with evaluation outcomes and including teacher input when developing a new system. The Playbook’s recommendation on viewing evaluation reform as an ongoing process is another valuable tip for states to keep in mind.”

Hope Street Group is a 501(c)3 organization working to strengthen the foundational underpinnings of our economy—education, healthcare and jobs—by identifying and promoting rational methods of incentivizing better outcomes. We are fiercely bipartisan and relentlessly results-oriented. We bring together a variety of experienced practitioners, including creative business minds, nonprofit leaders, and visionaries in government of all political stripes to collaborate in the pursuit of policy innovation. We then use our findings as a megaphone to influence and inform policy, and help to implement and spread the ideas that are working on the ground.


If you would like more information about the Hope Street Group Teacher Evaluation Playbook, Hope Street Group, or to schedule an interview with Daniel Cruce, Vice President of Education of Hope Street Group, please call Rebecca Wales at 703-835-6118 or e-mail Rebecca at

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