Case Study Brief: Promising Approaches to the Development and Implementation of District-Determined Measures


Harless, E., Humphrey, D., & Mitchell, N. (2015). Promising Approaches to the Development and Implementation of District-Determined Measures. Case study brief. Menlo Park: SRI International.


In 2012, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education contracted with SRI International and its research partners, Abt Associates, Nancy Brigham Associates, and J Koppich and Associates, to conduct an independent study of the implementation of Massachusetts’ Educator Evaluation Framework. During the 2014-15 school year, the research team administered a statewide survey of principals and school staff and conducted educator interviews and focus groups in seven case study districts. In the case study districts, the team focused on exploring promising practices related to use of evaluation data for human resources decisions, implementation of district-determined measures (DDMs) of student learning, and capacity of evaluators to conduct fair and thorough evaluations. This brief is the second in a three-part series dedicated to sharing these promising practices with other districts in Massachusetts.

This case study brief features promising approaches to the implementation and development of DDMs from four districts across the Commonwealth (Attleboro, Reading, South Hadley Public Schools, and the Whitman-Hanson Regional School District). DDMs are measures of student learning created or selected by districts that inform educators’ Student Impact Ratings, a component of the Educator Evaluation Framework. Communication strategies for framing DDMs, expertise and supports for DDM development, building educator ownership of DDMs, and meaningful DDM data use all contributed to educator buy-in, better understanding of DDMs’ purpose, and data-driven decision-making in educators’ practice. The following approaches from these four districts may be informative for other districts:

  1. The districts presented DDMs as an instructional improvement tool not as an additional top-down requirement of the evaluation system.
  2. The districts provided initial and ongoing professional supports to assist teachers in the development and implementation process. Ongoing support helped ensure educators were administering assessments that informed instruction and provided them with meaningful data.
  3. The districts established teacher teams to develop DDMs, thereby building educator ownership and promoting within- or cross-school collaboration. Educators involved in those teams were active participants in developing relevant, useful DDMs.
  4. The districts created or used existing structures to help teachers analyze and use the DDM data to inform their instruction. By enabling meaningful analysis of student data, the districts helped educators identify specific areas of student need and target instruction accordingly.

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