New guidelines distributed to superintendents this week have the potential to increase the effectiveness of local Professional Development and Evaluation Committees (PDECs) and ensure teachers’ voices are heard in discussions about teacher evaluation and professional learning.
The guidelines were developed by the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) after CEA and AFT-Connecticut brought teachers’ concerns to the council.
“Most districts want to follow what is required by statute, but sometimes there is confusion or districts aren’t aware of what is required,” said CEA Teacher Development Specialist Kate Field. “I’ve found in my work with local Associations that there are often teachers and administrators who aren’t aware that there needs to be a representative from the local bargaining unit on the PDEC.”
Field continued, “There’s also often no formal process for making decisions. Having these new guidelines is a simple clear way of reminding everyone on the PDEC about the importance of reaching mutual agreement when making decisions.”
The new guidelines
- remind districts that PDEC membership must include bargaining unit appointees,
- recommend that one teacher and one administrator serve as committee co-chairs,
- spell out a decision-making process for the PDEC, and
- recommend transparency as to how decisions are made.
“Ensuring that the local Association has representation on the PDEC is essential to building trust as well as providing a teacher voice in decisions about teacher evaluation and professional learning,” Field said. “It also ensures that students remain at the center of the PDEC’s discussions. That can get lost if the teacher voice isn’t present. Teachers interact directly with students every day and have direct knowledge about what they need to be successful.”
CEA is encouraging all members who serve on PDECs to discuss the guidelines at the first PDEC meeting in their district this fall.
Also included in the guidelines is a recommendation that districts make minutes for all PDEC meetings available to all staff. Field recommends that local Associations with websites post the PDEC minutes to their websites as well.
“CEA members absolutely need to know who their union representatives are on their PDECs and communicate to those representatives what is and isn’t working in their evaluation and professional development plans,” Field said. “The PDEC should be the vehicle for making changes that benefit teachers and students. If a PDEC isn’t soliciting issues from teachers, then members should be vocal in making their needs known.”
If you don’t know who serves on your district’s PDEC, Field recommends you contact your local president or building representative.
“The PDEC is the single greatest opportunity for teachers to have significant input into teacher evaluation and their professional learning—the committee can have a profound impact on what goes on in the classroom,” Field added. “I strongly recommend that teachers consider being a member of their PDEC, or at least read the minutes from the PDEC meetings and talk about them at local union meetings.”
Field and CEA Educational Issues Specialist Michele Ridolfi O’Neill are available to provide personalized assistance, answer questions, and help refine or update locals’ teacher evaluation and professional development plans. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Click here for more teacher evaluation resources from CEA.