Teacher evaluation, development plan presented to school board

Independent School District 834 officials presented an update on their work-in-progress plan for a new Stillwater teacher development and evaluation plan at Thursday’s board learning session.

District staff developed the plan in response to a state law requiring all Minnesota school districts to have a teacher development and evaluation plan in place by the 2014-2015 school year.

Director of Secondary Schools Mike Redmond said the collaborative effort has been worked on since the 2012 school year. The plan allows for a three-year system for tenured teachers that includes goal setting, peer reviews and walkthroughs, and an end-of-the-year reflection. For non-tenured teachers, the plan includes goal setting, a minimum of three walkthroughs and three formal observations as well as an end-of-the-year reflection.

Redmond said the plan is allows for peer feedback and growth for teachers, with a pilot program expected to be implemented next year. He hopes to involve 20 percent of the teachers on a volunteer basis at each of the various pilot sites selected.
Several teachers attending the learning session who assisted on creating the evaluation system expressed excitement about the opportunity for peer review and learning from other teachers about how they educate their students, allowing them to use best practices in the future.

Program details such as cost and number of participating teachers are expected to be presented at the May 17 board meeting.

During the board’s business meeting Thursday, Malinda Lansfeldt presented an update on implementing 21st century skills into the new Bridge 834 to Excellence strategic plan.

Lansfeldt emphasized that the term 21st century skills is generally refers to certain core competencies such as collaboration, digital literacy, critical thinking, and problem-solving.

She said that the district hopes to get an annual community involvement activity at each school, create electronic student portfolios, and implement flexible learning opportunities within the day and year that allow for independent learning time for students.

The board also agreed:

To approve the sale of a strip of land on South Greeley Street to the state Department of Transportation as an easement area and allow for some expansion of the road during the St. Croix River Crossing project. MnDOT will pay $400 for the 102 square feet of land and $840 for relocating irrigation systems. The agency will help with reconstruction of the retaining wall if necessary.