Philosophy and Approach

Advancing Educator Performance for Optimal Student Results

The School ADvance and Growth PLUS support system rest on four assumptions, which are based on the work of early researchers in the field of performance evaluation of educators.

  1. The ultimate goal of educator performance review and feedback is to achieve better results for students by fostering improved effectiveness of our teachers and leader.
  2. There are enormous implications for principals for their expertise and for the way they do business and spend their time.
  3. There is a need to balance high-stakes accountability with ongoing support and feedback, focused on improvement.
  4. Research tells us that employee evaluation systems work best when evaluation is not something we do to people, but rather when it is a shared process of adaptive learning and growth. An effective evaluation system allows employees to take responsibility for their own learning, growth, and performance.

The developers of School ADvance and Growth PLUS offer a framework for guiding school leaders in designing a comprehensive system that:

  • Meets the intent and the letter of the Michigan performance evaluation statutes;
  • Reflects the research on evaluation and feedback;
  • Can be managed with available people resources.

To achieve all three, this framework emphasizes individual responsibility for building a body of evidence that can be used to evaluate each teacher’s and administrator’s work and guide their professional growth. The framework also emphasizes a collaborative process between the individual being evaluated, supervisors, and peers.

The Framework

With those assumptions in mind, we’ve identified some research-driven  principles and critical elements that must be part of any  Comprehensive Educator Evaluation System  for teachers, principals, central office administrators and, superintendent: The system must be: Authentic, Professional, Purpose-Driven, Adaptive, Data-informed, and Inclusive.

Let's look at each a little more in detail:

Authentic – The System recognizes and rewards the use of evidence based practice to achieve  better student outcomes

  • Tools – Sets of research validated standards, observation protocols and guides, research validated performance assessments, work samples
  • Strategies – Examine performance through the lens of standards, using multiple sources of evidence, including observations, assessments, work samples, and evidence of results.

Professional – The System builds personal commitment and efficacy for growth and improvement

  • Tools –Performance assessment tools (self and external), S.M.A.R.T Goals, Professional Development Plans (PDPs), portfolios, professional work samples, web pages, social networking, tuning protocols, student work, and student achievement data
  • Strategies –Each educator builds a body of evidence that exemplifies their practice, performance, and results. This body of evidence can be used by evaluators against the standards for that position in that school (district).

Purpose Driven - The System is driven by measurable improvement targets for student success

  • Tools – Student work, student achievement data, other sources of student results (attendance, behavioral, participation, academic, perception, etc.)
  • Strategies – Each individual completes a profile of student results and identifies targets for improved student results. 

Adaptive – The System fosters exploration, action research, self-assessment, reflective practice and innovative  ways of getting better student results

  • Tools –  S.M.A.R.T. Goals, action research plans, Individual Development Plans (PDPs), Differentiated Instruction Plans
  • Strategies – Each educator develops performance improvement plans that account for variations in student characteristics, learning profiles, and special needs.

Data Informed -  The System uses multiple sources of qualitative and quantitative data tied to student achievement and evidence based practice

  • Tools – All the tools we’ve mentioned before: student achievement data, observation data, portfolios, work samples, to mention just a few.
  • Strategies – Build the capacity to combine and analyze data in an easy-to-use digital environment. Provide professional learning and technical assistance to help educators successfully use the system.

Inclusive – The System serves all, with alignment between student, teacher, administrator, and district improvement goals

  • Tools – Digital tools for data capture, access, and system components
  • Strategies – Professional learning and technical support enriched with a feedback loop for continuous refinement and development of the system.

School Administrator Evaluation

In our conversations with Michigan administrators, we found a vast range of readiness to comply with best practice research and Michigan’s 2010 annual evaluation requirement. In order to meet their needs, MASA and Michigan ASCD have collaborated to begin development of a performance evaluation system for building and district administrators, using the research-based principles and critical elements we outlined just now.

The newly launched School ADvance System for Administrator evaluation complies with Michigan’s newest laws, aligns with state and national standards, and follows best practices for performance review. School ADvance includes assessment rubrics for principals, central office administrators and superintendents. The rubrics can be used alone or within an online management system such as STAGES, which can facilitate and enrich the annual evaluation process for all educators.

A growing number of districts are successfully turning to this system, because it’s user-friendly and meets Michigan’s laws and standards.  MASA and Michigan ASCD are prepared to support districts with a full range of professional learning and adapt as necessary to be consistent with the Committee’s final recommendations.


In summary, the general principles we are recommending are grounded in the assumption that evaluation is not something we do to people; rather, it is a process of adaptive learning and growth that requires an internal locus of control.

The framework we envision—and that we urge you to consider as you form recommendations--includes six important elements. Evaluation systems designed for learning and growth must be authentic, professional, purpose driven, adaptive, date-informed and inclusive. It must incorporate multiple sources of evidence, collaborative analysis of that evidence, and improvement plans that align with the purposes of the school and district. 

A framework incorporating these elements can assist teachers, administrators, and boards of education in answering the three important questions for their own work:

(a)   Where am I right now in my learning and performanc?
(b)   Where should I focus next to learn, grow, and improve?
(c)   How should I proceed to reach that next level of performance?