SCPS to launch new teacher evaluations

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Statewide pilot program starts this year with full implementation in 2014-15

By Todd Martin

As the school year gets under way, students won’t be the only ones facing new standards from new teachers.

The Kentucky Department of Education is requiring school districts across the commonwealth to have one tenth of their schools start using the new Next Generation Teacher Standards. This pilot program started last year with volunteer schools and will include every school district this year.

“For us that means one of our schools will be our pilot school, but we have several administrators going through the training this year,” said Barbara Allan, the district’s director of personnel and administration. “Simpsonville will be our pilot school, but administrators at Painted Stone Elementary and Shelby County High School are also going through the training this year and will act as pilot schools, just not in the official capacity.”

The participating schools will use the new standards to evaluate five to six teachers who normally would not be evaluated this year. Allan said those schools will continue to use the old standards for all the necessary evaluations for the upcoming school year.

The district has always had a teacher evaluation process, but Allan said this one is more in-depth.

“There are some similarities to what we do,” she said. “For instance there is still an observation piece, and now we’re adding peer observation, parent voice, student voice, student achievement and self reflection.

“We’ve had student surveys and had other teachers sit in on classes before, but these will certainly add another dimension to our evaluations.”

There are five domains for the evaluations – Planning and Preparation; Classroom Environment; Instruction; Professional Responsibilities; and Student Growth.

The new system is all part of the Next Generation plan, which started with the state’s petition to be removed from No Child Left Behind and form its own evaluation system and also included the adoption of the Common Core Standards, which were also adopted by more than 40 other states to help create a national norm.

“We had the option from the state of going with their standards and evaluation plan or developing our own,” Allan said. “We decided to go with the state’s system that they’ve been working on for several years. I don’t know of any district that decided to go on their own.”

Since the program is still in the pilot stage, Allan said the standards are still be evaluated and changed.

“They’re continuing to develop the rubrics, and they will continue throughout the year and into next summer,” she said. “And there is still so much more for us to learn about it. Currently, our teachers on continuing contracts are on a three-year rotation of evaluation, and we don’t know yet is this is something that is going to be done every year or on a rotation.”

The new standards include a closer look at student achievement, but again, they leave questions to be answered.

“We’re not sure yet how much of a focus that will be [on student achievement],” she said.

Once the pilot schools across the commonwealth file their information with the department of education, the standards will be tweaked again before being implemented statewide for the 2014-15 school year. It is unclear how the new review system could affect a teacher’s employment.

“We’re still working with teachers to help them understand the new standards, but I think once they’re implemented they’ll be very helpful,” Allan said. “The peer evaluation and student voice, which are similar to some things we’ve been doing, I think will be very helpful for teachers.

“It’s going to be difficult to get all the changes implemented, and change is always difficult, but we’ll be ready.”