On October 12, in the ornate Rotunda and Atrium of the Ohio Statehouse, surrounded by family and many of the state’s top education leaders, some of Ohio’s highest-performing beginning teachers were honored for demonstrating superior practice. We at Educopia, Ohio’s partner in administering the Resident Educator Summative Assessment (RESA), feel truly privileged to have hosted the event, which recognized Ohio educators who earned the top 100 overall scores on RESA in each of the past three years. More than 120 of the state’s highest-scoring teachers attended, joined by their spouses, children, and parents in celebration of the honor. State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria, Representative Andrew Brenner - Chair of the House Education Committee, and other state policymakers attended the event. Seeing the teachers beam with pride in front of their families and hearing their sincere gratitude for being recognized for their professional excellence was by far the most moving experience of my career in education policy.
For background, RESA is required for all third-year educators seeking a permanent teaching license in Ohio. It consists of four performance tasks that teachers complete by submitting videos, lesson plans, and student assignments from their actual teaching. The assessment was custom-developed for Ohio with the assistance of national experts Charlotte Danielson and Mari Pearlman to accurately mirror Ohio’s Teaching Standards. Ohio educators, who complete extensive training and earn certification by passing a rigorous examination, score the RESA submissions. The teachers honored at the event were among a very select group: over 15,900 educators have taken RESA since its first year in 2013-2014.
The Ohio Resident Educator program gives new teachers the chance to develop their competencies with the support of a mentor. According to Connie Ball, a program coordinator at Worthington Schools, “The Ohio Resident Educator program provides strong support for beginning teachers allowing them the grace of time to grow in the profession and continue to learn through the guidance of a strong mentorship program and a network of their peers. The program encourages teachers to ask, ‘how can I be a better educator tomorrow than I was today?’ and our teachers are certainly meeting that challenge.”
Through RESA, the state then determines whether candidates have the knowledge and skills to lead a classroom anywhere in the state. This process allows local leadership to focus on what they're best situated to do, which is to work with teachers to help them address areas for improvement. It's a bit like the AP test, in which the test is a consistent bar that all students must pass to get credit, and an AP teacher’s job is to help the students get over it. In Ohio, local leaders and mentors are there to help teachers develop the skills assessed on RESA so they can pass and earn their professional license.
RESA is an objective measure of important teaching practices, such as lesson planning, differentiation of instruction, use of assessment, and the ability to engage students intellectually so they understand concepts deeply. It also measures a teacher's ability to reflect and identify ways to improve her own practice, which is absolutely essential in a profession that requires an ongoing commitment to continual improvement.
Demonstrating the skills that RESA measures is a lot of work, as any teacher will tell you. Just as teachers and schools must commit to ongoing improvement, Educopia, the state’s testing vendor, is gathering feedback and working with the Ohio Department of Education to streamline the assessment to alleviate teacher burden. Still, the RESA “tasks” are not busywork; they capture essential skills required of any effective teacher.
On questionnaires distributed at the end of the event, teachers provided suggestions on how to improve RESA and wrote about what they gained from the RESA process. Among their comments:
- Madison Welker, an 8th grade teacher, commented, “[T]he idea of reflection aided me to further my impact through instruction.”
- Allison Meyer, a Kindergarten teacher, wrote, “Reflecting upon my teaching practices in a purposeful manner was incredibly beneficial, as it forced me to stop amongst the hectic day-in and day-out and evaluate my own teaching practices.”
- Jessica Russell, a Pre-K teacher, also commented on the reflection element of RESA, “RESA has helped make lesson reflection second nature! As soon as I finish teaching a lesson I am already thinking about how I can improve it for next time. It has helped me become my best!”
Pre-K teacher Jessica Russell with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria
All photos used in this piece are by kind permission of Educopia/Matt Verber
This was the first year that Educopia hosted such an event to honor outstanding RESA candidates, and it is just the first step in our efforts to recognize high-performing educators in Ohio. We encourage these teachers to continue their professional growth and to consider future roles as teacher leaders, so that they can share what they clearly do so well. Although the event on October 12th honored a select group of teachers who scored in the top 100 on RESA, we hope districts across Ohio recognize all their teachers who are successful on the assessment, which is truly an accomplishment that deserves celebration.
Matt Verber is the Executive Director of Policy & Advocacy of Educopia.