Schools pilot new teacher evaluation system
Warm Springs Middle School administrators reported on a new state pilot teacher evaluation system that will be implemented in all Morgan County Schools next school year.
Middle School Principal Gene Brock and Assistant Principal Rhett Beckman gave a presentation at a recent school board meeting about the new performance evaluation system’s features and how it’s going so far.
Brock said that the old system required administrators to observe teachers for 30 minutes for two to three sessions and write down exactly what they saw.
The new system has four observations and four levels of performance, which are distinguished, accomplished, emerging and unsatisfactory.
During the first part of the school year until October 1, teachers do a self-reflection of where they see themselves on the scale of performance. Most are emerging or accomplished, Brock said. There are a few distinguished teachers.
Distinguished teaching “engages students to be highly responsible for their own learning.” It also involves being in teacher leadership roles with others.
Accomplished performance is teaching that exhibits mastery while striving for improvement and serving the teaching community.
Emerging performance is teaching that shows essential knowledge and skills but that has elements that aren’t always successful.
Unsatisfactory teaching doesn’t demonstrate “sufficient understanding of concepts or the successful implementation of essential elements.”
By November 1, teachers are required to set two goals, one that is student-oriented and the other teacher-oriented, Brock said.
The evaluation system is 80% based on self-reflection and evaluator observations, 15% on two student learning goals chosen by the teacher and 5% on school-wide growth in reading and mathematics.
The evaluation system has four observations a year for educators with one to three years of teaching, two annual observations for fourth to fifth year teachers and no required observations for teachers of six or more years.
School board member Eric Kidwell asked how they evaluated teachers that had six or more years of teaching. Brock said they did classroom walkthroughs.
Observations can be announced or unannounced. One observation is usually unannounced. Good classroom management is one element they observe and they also evaluate whether teachers are meeting their goals or not, Brock said.
A lot of times when they walk into a classroom, it’s just a snapshot of what’s happening, Beckman said. If teachers seem to be struggling, they will do an evaluation. If things are going well, they meet with the teacher at the end of the year, Brock said.
Support & corrective plans
A focused support plan is implemented for teachers with performances showing areas of concern. They are placed in the support plan for 45 days, Brock said.
Teachers are given resources for support that include being referred to other teachers for assistance. If at the end of the 45-day support plan, teachers are meeting standards, they’re removed from the focused support plan. Adequate progress gets another nine-week support plan.
If there is no improvement after the initial support plan period, an 18-week corrective action plan is implemented. Forty five more days of support can be added. Termination could occur after that if there was still no improvement, Brock said.
Standards & elements
At the end of the year, teachers are given a complete evaluation rating. Teachers are measured on five different standards and their essential elements.
These standards and elements include curriculum and planning, extensive knowledge of subject matter, the learner and the learning environment, teaching strategies, engaging students, professional development, improvement of practice and involvement in school-wide collaborative efforts to support student success.
School-wide student reading and language arts and math growth scores and the teacher’s student learning goals are combined into a sixth standard for evaluation. The six standards are evaluated together for the teacher’s overall rating, which is considered the seventh standard.
The implementation of the new evaluation system was taking a lot of time and work to get everyone on board and following the needed timelines, Brock said. He said he didn’t like how the evaluations were tied to WESTEST scores and not a student growth model. Brock thought the new system has potential and was an improvement, but also felt it has issues.