Education Insights

Investing in Calibration – Part 2

This is Part 2 of a two-part series, sharing Los Angeles Unified School District’s experience with PM Calibration. Read Part 1 here

Summer 2017 marked the first time that the nation’s second largest district would provide its annual calibration event completely online. Since 2015, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) administrators had been invited to complete an annual, in-person calibration event to deepen their understanding of the district’s instructional framework, the Teaching and Learning Framework (TLF), discuss with colleagues their rating practices, and complete an accuracy assessment. As previously mentioned, due to limited resources and feedback from the field, central office staff from the Professional Learning and Leadership Development (PLLD) branch decided to offer the annual calibration event entirely online using the district’s evaluation platform, the My Professional Growth System (MyPGS), and the Performance Matters Calibration solution to complete all activities.

By moving calibration to online there would be less direct oversight and monitoring, therefore, PLLD staff created a multi-pronged strategy to increase buy-in from leadership, diversify communication channels, and provide quality support to the field. Final participation results and lessons learned from PLLD staff are provided below to support other school districts that are considering providing online calibration opportunities to their administrators.

Final participation results:

  • Over 1,200 administrators completed all online calibration event activities (this is an increase from last year!).
  • The largest increase in participation was from assistant principals.
  • Most participants received high accuracy marks (28% Certified with Distinction and 30% Certified).

Lessons learned for increasing participation in online calibration:

  • Collaborate with senior leadership on the design of the calibration event (i.e. identify dates, communication points) to enlist buy-in early on.
  • Communicate the purpose of calibration, expectations, and key event details with the intended participants using multiple communication channels (i.e. newsletters, direct emails, etc.).
  • Create user-friendly calibration resources and tools for participants.
  • Utilize a platform that participants are familiar with to complete calibration event activities.
  • Provide flexibility to participants (i.e. multiple time frames, length of time to complete activities, location).
  • Target reminders to participants to participate and complete all calibration event activities prior and during the calibration event.
  • Celebrate the accomplishments of the participants publicly to build ongoing support for identified next steps around professional development opportunities and next year’s calibration event.

Moving the annual calibration event online was an incredible feat for PLLD staff, but the results indicate that if calibration opportunities are purposefully designed and executed as intended, we can provide the flexibilities that LAUSD administrators need to complete the necessary activities. The purpose of the LAUSD annual calibration event is to detect rating errors that occur over time, provide administrators feedback about their accuracy performance, and inspire confidence in the observation process. LAUSD will reach these goals if central office staff continue to respond to the needs of the field and ensure high participation rates year after year.


Authored by Martha Cortes and the members of the Professional Learning and Leadership Development (PLLD) team – Los Angeles, CA

A focus on quality teaching and learning practices drives the short- and long-term goals of the PLLD team. For over five years, this team has worked together on the development, implementation, and refinement of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s educator growth and development policies and programs.