How many teachers will earn Danielson’s “Distinguished” rating?

I think one of the most debated and misunderstood concepts from the Danielson Frameworks for Teaching (FFT) is the question of how many teachers will earn the “Distinguished” rating. I have heard administrators say no one is distinguished and teachers should be pleased to be rated proficient. Danielson herself states both in her book and in her videos that “…teachers visit “Distinguished” they do not live there.”

Illinois administrators learned in their training that they are to record evidence in informal and formal evaluations. Evidence does not have bias, interpretation or judgment. I often describe observation evidence as the following: Observation evidence is: 1) What the teacher says and does; 2) What the students say and do; 3) Can it be counted?; and 4) Can it be timed? Evaluators learn to collect evidence from the observations, categorize the evidence by domain/component, enter into reflective conversations with the teacher, and finally, summative rate the teacher.

Following the above stated process, how can anyone say that no teacher will be rated Distinguished/Excellent? The administrator would have to gather the evidence and rate the teacher based on that evidence. The summative rating could not be predetermined to be ‘Proficient.” It has been my experience that there are many excellent teachers. These excellent teachers will learn what the FFT requires for a summative “Distinguished” rating and they will earn this rating. I wonder what Danielson means by “teachers visit distinguished but do not live there.” However, I would guess if you asked Danielson if there are excellent teachers in Illinois she would say yes.

Will there be less summative rated excellent teachers in Illinois now that the FFT is being implemented? Probably yes but we cannot make that determination until we gather the evidence, categorize the evidence by domain/component, reflect with the teacher and then rate the teacher. We need to conduct multiple informal and formal observations to gather enough evidence to make this final determination. It is my guess that teachers will continue to improve when it comes to illustrating the critical elements of the frameworks in these multiple observations. In my personal opinion, we have many excellent teachers in Illinois no matter what the measure.

I recently tweeted a blog by a teacher who has dumped the “flipped classroom” for a Project Based Learning (PBL) strategy. I encourage you to read this post as it explains how students learn based on their own inquiry, research and desire to learn. As we have more teachers move toward more student action (Danielson calls this Engaged Learning) we will improve student learning. You can read this blog post here.

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