New teacher evaluation pilot presented to board

A new teacher evaluation pilot program that costs the district $37,386 in it’s first year was presented days before its Monday launches to the Independent School District 834 Board Thursday.

The new teacher evaluation system was required, but not funded, by the state in 2011. Of the total amount, $20,000 has already been set aside for the program in the first year of the Bridge To Excellence plan and will cost another $17,386 with staff development set-asides.

Licensing, initial training and meeting costs, miscellaneous additional training costs and estimated substitute costs that will be incurred throughout the ear when teachers are participating in peer review are included in the initial total cost.

The new state-mandated evaluation system requires a new plan that includes a three-year professional growth cycle with an individual growth and development plan, peer review, the opportunity to participate in professional learning communities and at least one summative performed by a qualified and trained evaluator such as a school administrator.

“We’ve been working hard at this for a couple years now and talking to other schools, we are well ahead of them in the planning process. There are no encountering issues that have caused them to stop and re-evaluate what they are doing. This evaluation process must be implemented completely in 2014,” said Josiah Hill, a Stillwater Area High School teacher who has been on this evaluation planning committee since its start.

The group has met approximately 50 times since December 2011. The new evaluation program aligns with the Bridge to Excellence plan and includes professional growth and evaluation through goal setting and peer to peer feedback, and customizing training to each employee to improve their craft and benefit student learning.

The evaluation process for tenured staff includes in year one and two of the system, tenured teachers participate in goal-setting activities and have a classroom observation in the fall and winter by Dec. 15 and a principal review and goals agreement at the end of year one. In year three, goal-setting meetings take place and an administrative walk-through by a building principal or administrator occurs by Dec. 15.

Additional walkthroughs might take place and a pre-observation meeting, classroom observation, post observation meeting, a summative and personal reflection and goal-setting will occur in the spring. A principal review then takes place along with more goal-setting and a peer reviewer for the upcoming school year is appointed.

For a probationary staff member, there will be three walkthroughs by building principals or administrators in their first year in the district. They will be inducted into the mentor program and also have peer learning visits to classrooms suggested by their mentor.

“The point of this is to make them comfortable with having different people in their room and encourage them to do the same with others to help them improve their craft,” said Director of Administrative Services Cathy Moen.

Goal-setting and another peer observation, along with goal-setting with a principal, takes place if the staffer is renewed. In years two and three for a probationary staff member, a development plan is finalized and a pre-observation conference along with a formal observation and post observation meeting, will take place. Peer learning visits also are part of this year.

“The system is a self-monitored system. The way the system works is that it’s all in a cloud and the principal can see what is happening to make sure things are on track. We’re still working out some of the pieces technologically to help with this process, and that will come as we move forward in the pilot program,” Moen said.

The new evaluation process focuses on five dimensions of learning, according to Ryan Laager. They include purpose, student engagement, curriculum and pedagogy, assessment for student learning, classroom environment, and professional collaboration and communication.

“It’s taken lots of time to create and find the right fit for our school, but it’s been a collaborative effort with teachers, administrators and the Minnesota Department of Education. A lot of people are really excited about this and we’re looking forward to implementing it,” Laager said.

Contact Avery Cropp at avery.cropp@ecm-inc.com

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