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Understanding the TPEP Implementation in Seattle Public Schools

AKA: It is going to destroy buildings or helping teachers to be very thoughtful

By Ken Turner and Tanisha Felder
May 6, 2014
Instructional Leadership for Equitable Systems

The implementation of TPEP to Seattle Public Schools is brand new. So new in
fact that very little consideration has been given to assessing how the
implementation process has gone. While intentional tracking may be scarce, the
work started long ago with the implementation of the Danielson Framework. SPS
put lots of energy into making Danielson accessible not only to building principals,
but most importantly to teachers. Using teachers as the leaders in sharing this idea
of professional standards allowed buildings to have less anxiety and stress, realizing
that some of their own got it and were not intimidated, while also realizing that
the framework could be a useful tool. I was chosen to be a Danielson teacher leader,
and I saw first hand that it broke walls down and allowed space for conversation to
exist around professional responsibilities. What existed during that time is not
evident this time around with TPEP. This paper will share the implementation of
TPEP from the ones who are affected the most. We have a collection of experiences
from various stakeholders in SPS and the impact TPEP has made in their work. We
will hear from central office, building principals and classroom teachers. Each level
offers a different perspective about what TPEP actually means and how it applies to
their role.
Seattle Public schools serves over 51,000 students in 95 schools across Seattles
neighborhoods. In 2010 there were 8 schools chosen to pilot TPEP. Seattle was not one
of them. Instead they were chosen to receive a school improvement grant. In the
meantime, Danielson became the model to study and use for learning walks,
conversation around teaching practice and student engagement. While investigating the
4 components (Planning and Preparation, Classroom Environment, Instruction and
Professional Responsibilities), many teachers began to question whether what they were
doing was enough, especially when student outcomes did not match teacher effort. What
increased this stress was the student connection between the Danielson Framework and
the teachers evaluations. What was introduced as a tool to help support teachers in
their instruction was quickly becoming a tool to evaluate whether teachers were
struggling, basic, proficient or innovative (now called distinguished). Anxiety grew in
the meantime, Seattle was preparing for what many other districts were already
experiencingthe onset of TPEP. By 2013, all districts were mandated to use TPEP as
the evaluation tool for teachers and principals. In August 2013, mandated professional
development was given in all buildings introducing the TPEP model.
This message was sent from my school principal a day before the expected PD.

All Building Administrators received the following information:

Action Item Required Completion Date
TPEP Professional Growth & Evaluation training for
certificated staff
August 29
, 2013

This training is not optional; therefore, we need to reschedule the August 29

day with Buck Institute.

The urgency of this email indicate a few things:
1) Principals were given short notice to mandate this PD
2) My principal was not aware of the training in the first place
3) An urgent push from SPS or SEA was initiated so that all staff could be held
accountable for this new evaluation.
Regardless of the reasons, the urgency shows that it was not well planned or
thoughtfully rolled out. When PD and mandates present themselves in this fashion,
confusion and anxiety soon follow.

On November 19, 2013, Seattle Schools Superintendent Banda announced that Misa
Garmoe would be appointed Director of School Operations for pre-K through 12th grade
and would be be directing the districts implementation of the states Teacher and
Principal Evaluation Project (TPEP). Ms. Garmoe was previously the Human Resources
Manager with Seattle Public Schools.

Timeline of TPEP Implementation on OSPI and SPS levels

The main leaders at the state level reflected large organizations that reflected multiple
stakeholders in education:
Steering Committee Organizations
Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
Washington Education Association
Association of Washington School Principals
Pilot districts develop models to use in
implementing the new evaluation standards.
These models will likely include indicators,
rubrics and protocols. Danielson Model in SPS.
The pilot districts will use the new models.
Separate reports to the legislature and
governor are due in July 2011 and July
Superintendent Dorn is charged with
analyzing the work of the pilots and
choosing one or more of the models to
recommend to the Legislature. (Volunteers
can choose to select PGE evaluations)
All districts will do the
preparation work needed
to use the new models. (All
SPS on Comprehensive of
Professional Growth
All districts will use the new models as the
basis for evaluating their teachers and
principals. (SPS starts TPEP)
Washington Association of School Administrators
Washington State School Directors' Association
Washington State PTA
At the Seattle school district level it is a bit harder to locate this information. While
Professional development was available at each building August of 2013, the real
education of making the new evaluation work had not began. In my building, we were
introduced to TPEP in August, a quick recap in September and then sat down to create
our goals for the year. In the midst of creating these goals, we were instructed to create
different ones due to a misunderstanding on the administration level. This showed
clearly, that there was confusion about TPEP, and even the leaders were trying to figure
it out. By November, the superintendent appointed Misa Garmoe as Director of School
Operations which included oversight of TPEP. With this position in place, SPS was now
ready to begin the work on implementation across the district. Connected with the TPEP
focus was the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. Teachers were
using these standards as a base for creating their goals with the hopes of seeing
instructional strides and greater student outcomes. Two implementations in one year is
a lot to juggle, and the questions still remains as to how well the balls were kept in the
air. Interestingly, based on our survey, none of teachers or principals saw a connection
between TPEP and CCSS implementation while both central staff leaders spoke of the
obvious link. To meet proficiency in criterion 4 (Danielson), teachers will need to have
a deep knowledge of the content they are teaching (CCSS) remarked one John Standard
district leader.
A major hurdle in the implementation appears to be the dramatic disconnect
between schools and the district office over TPEP implementation. At first glance,
educators in schools (principals and teachers) do not see the growth or learning for
themselves through the TPEP process; they only see it as a means of their own
evaluation. Those not being assessed, district leaders, on the other hand, strongly agree
that teachers (and principals) are growing due to their maturation process of TPEP.
(Table 1) This could be the result of not having TPEP actually affect them, just believing
in the process that is coming from the legislatures and administered from the John
Stanford building.
combined quantitative data
D= district P= principal T= teacher
Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree
TPEP implementation focuses on teacher growth D D T P T T
TPEP implementation focuses on teacher evaluation D D T T T P
TPEP implementation focuses on principal growth D T P T
TPEP implementation focuses on principal evaluation D T T P
Veteran teachers accept TPEP implementation D T P T
New (1-3 year) teachers accept TPEP implementation D T P
(Table 1)

When asked about STENGTHS and WEAKNESSES of TPEP Implementation,
again a large chasm between district and school leaders. School educators fail to
mention any strengths. One principal complained about the amount of time to fill
out tedious forms, while one of her teachers supported her by saying writing
multi-page goals is all she has time to do and not talk with us anymore. Another
teacher claims the TPEP is just a rubberstamp billionaires and their political
cronies. Another principal wished TPEP gave them a simpler rubric for
comments. She feels:
If we are looking at teacher/admin growth, this tool is not for this.
This tool is to measure teachers against data.
District leaders see only benefit in TPEP implementation in helping teachers be
very thoughtful. Another district leader spoke of TPEP as just the next evolution of
the Danielson Framework:
TPEP Focuses on Teacher Growth
Strongly disagree
Strongly Agree
Our district has been using the Danielson Framework for 4 years to
support and evaluate teacher performance. There have been struggles with
it, but for the most part, it allows all parties to come together around a clear
vision of what practices will increase student learning. It makes the
assessment of teachers practice more objective and based on criteria rather
than opinion. In many cases Danielson has increased the rigor or what
instruction is and what it should look like. That has the benefit of improving
student learning.

TPEP Focuses on Teacher Evaluation

When asked if teachers understand TPEP implementation, answered varied
from still getting the hang of it to I understand it fairly well to having this rammed
Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly
Classroom Teacher
down our throats as if there is any merit to it at all. Principals comments also
wildly varied from the optimistic: very well, but it has taken working with it
through this year to experience it and know what questions I need answered to the
pessimistic I have been filling out the forms for four years now. I understand them
and they are lengthy and take up most of my time. I rarely get to be an instructional
leader. As usual, district leaders see the TPEP glass half full: I believe I have a basic
understanding continued PD is a must and it has been an interesting process
working with arts specialists to identify end of course/year skills, techniques,
knowledge and understandings and then develop assessment strategies and tools to
track students progress.

TPEP Focuses on Principal Growth
Strongly Agree
Strongy Disagree
Teacher /Principal
As mentioned before, Seattle Public Schools is in the middle of implementing TPEP
while also aligning curriculum with Common Core State Standards. When asked if
school leaders see the follow through between TPEP and CCSS or in professional
development of CCSS, none claimed to see any link. However, when asked the same
questions, district leaders (who probably designed the professional development on
CCSS) spoke of an obvious link between the two. Everyone spoke of improving the
learning process:
To meet proficiency in criterion 4 teachers will need to have a deep
knowledge of the content they are teaching (CCSS ELA, math), important
concepts in the specific content area and connection to other disciplines, as
well as the prerequisite relationships between topics, concepts (scope and
sequence of CCSS).
Finally, when asked about the risks and benefits of TPEP to the educational
system, some striking positive and negative answers arose. One teacher chided:
I do think its interesting that some people think its valuable to have
a way to remove ineffective teachers from the classroom which is what Rep
Jamie Pedersen (43
district) told me when I was telling him my objections
to the new system. But the number of teachers removed was <1% of
teaching force in SPS. The remaining 99% of teachers are being put through
a degrading process of evaluation, dont have much professional
development from our principals, and feel unsafe taking risks (trying new
lessons, units, etc) and therefore might not grow professionally or grow in
our love of the profession.
Another principal claimed it is going to destroy buildings. It is competitive, it is
setting up kids to be widgets, it pits teacher against teacher, it is not equitable.
TPEP Focuses on Principal Evaluation

On the positive side, district leaders claim you have quality teaching with
the establishment of achievable goals we would hope. The entire learning
environment benefits-students staff and community. Another reflected:
I think it reframes the conversation and requires that we are all
looking to ensure 100% of our students grow every year. In the old
evaluation system, students could get lost or left behind because we only
looked at the overall achievement rates of a particular class. Also, it requires
equal attention for students who need acceleration not just students who
need academic scaffolding/interventions.

One conclusion appears that school leaders (both teachers and principals) see this
Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly
Classroom Teachers
as a ton of new work for principals, while district leaders just see this as a
continuation of the current Instructional Danielson Framework. In a sense, as Anna
Box, the Seattle Public Schools math manger points out, teachers are in a grieving
1. Denial- some think TPEP will be gone like other initiatives in their time and they
do not believe it will really impact them. This will obviously affect veteran
teachers more than new ones who have nothing to compare it to.
2. Anger- this is something new and confusing, and they do not like it or truly
understand how it affects them. Effective principals can coach them in the
importance and steps in TPEP.
3. Bargaining- if only my college program or fellow teachers had prepared for this
better. Having strong PLCs where teachers share the value of TPEP vs.
complaining about it would serve these educators better.
4. Depression (or worry)- I am going to lose my job due to TPEP, vs. looking at it
from a teaching/ learning stance where everyone has the ability to improve their
5. Acceptance- This will come fast with some educators, drag on for others.
Principals, coaches, and central support staff need to be unified in the importance
and effectiveness of TPEP, to help move teachers to acceptance and performance.
So what does this tell us about TPEP and the Seattle Public Schools? The responses
show clearly that depending on where you stand in the district, your perspective of TPEP
is vastly different. There seems to be a general consensus at the district level that TPEP is
going along great, with the principals and teachers drowning in paperwork and a sense of
being overwhelmed. While TPEP itself may not be a negative thing, it does seem to
generate lots of negative buzz. The result of ineffective proper implementation is
What would proper implementation entail?

What would proper implementation entail? It consist of having careful training at the
district level, so that executive directors become the instructional leaders with their
principals, principals working closely with EDs to create collaborative training for
building staff, building staff working with principals to create strong PLC models for
doing joint work with TPEP requirements, and building staff working together to support
each other with the TPEP evaluation standards. There is no guarantee that resentment
would not exist in this proposed model, but there is at least the implication that we are all
in this together.
for staff
+Building Staff
Leaders= PLCs
Building Staff
Leaders +
The idea of TPEP came from the desire to hold educators accountable to string
instruction and successful outcomes for students. This can be done well, and this model
has great potential to accomplish many strong outcomes. By closing the gap between
district and classroom, there is the possibility for great joint work to occur.

Bibliography and appendices
oject12-17-10.pdf (OSPI website)

"Teacher/Principal Evaluation Pilot." Teacher/Principal Evaluation Pilot. Web. 08
May 2014.

"Washington State Teacher/Principal Evaluation Project." Washington State
TeacherPrincipal Evaluation Project. Web. 08 May 2014.

Documents Used

TPEP Overview Document

TPEP FAQs: http://tpep.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/tpep-

Interview Sources:
2 SPS Principals
3 SPS Classroom Teachers
2 SPS Central Office Managers

Appendix (interview questions)

Teacher Principal Evaluation Program (TPEP) in Seattle Schools/ Interview
Compiled by Tanisha Felder and Ken Turner

Please check the box that most reflects your thoughts on the TPEP statement
Agree Disagree Strongly
TPEP implementation focuses on teacher

TPEP implementation focuses on teacher

TPEP implementation focuses on principal

TPEP implementation focuses on principal

Veteran teachers accept TPEP

New (1-3 year) teachers accept TPEP

Can you answer these for me? Can be brief answers.

1) What are the strengths in the TPEP implementation?

2) What is it lacking?

3) How well do you understand the TPEP implementation? What are you still
unclear about.?

4) What, if anything, do you see as the connection between Common Core State
Standards (CCSS) and TPEP?

5) What evidence do you see in the CCSS professional development (PD) trainings
that teachers understand the connection between CCSS and TPEP?

6) How, if at all, does or might TPEP increase the professionalism of teachers?

7) What are the benefits and risks of TPEP on the educational system?

8) How transparent and accessible is the implementation of TPEP? What does this
look like to you?