New evaluation plan in place
NAUGATUCK — A new evaluation process for teachers and administrators is in effect.
The new evaluations took effect the beginning of this school year after the state mandated certain changes in the process. The evaluation process was voted on by the Board of Education in April. The district received the state’s approval of its plans in August.
Assistant Superintendent of Schools Chris Montini said since April a few words had been changed to bring it in line with state guidelines, but there had not been any changes in the content of the evaluations.
Montini said the new evaluations have certain improvements over the old ones.
“I think this is an improved evaluation system,” Montini said. “I do believe it is a complete and robust system that includes feedback from students and parents. I believe that’s a good thing.”
Per state guidelines, 40 percent of each teacher’s evaluation will be based on observations of their performance and 10 percent will be based on parent feedback. Student growth and development makes up 45 percent of the evaluation, based on standardized test scores, or other assessments when standardized test scores are not applicable. Student feedback makes up 5 percent of the evaluation.
Administrator evaluations are 40 percent based on ratings from their superiors, 10 percent on climate surveys distributed at parent-teacher conferences, 22.5 percent on state-administered assessments, 22.5 percent on other locally determined measures of student learning and 5 percent on the effectiveness of the teachers under them.
Teachers and administrators can be rated exceptional, effective, developing or below standard.
Montini said that it was too early in the process to say whether there would be any negative impacts of switching to the new system since not enough data has been collected.
One of the impacts from the switch the district felt immediately was the additional time requirements it put on administrators.
“But that’s an advantage because it encourages administrators to be in classrooms more,” Montini said.
During the Board of Education’s meeting last Thursday board member Rocky Vitale was concerned that administrators are already very busy dealing with their day-to-day work load and putting this extra work on them might be too much.
“How the heck is somebody going to put this all together into a good district-wide report? It sounds like a full-time job,” Vitale said.
Montini responded by saying the district is still figuring out how it will work out the extra requirements on the administrators.
Board member Glenn Connan questioned how the district should deal with an educator who is not considered to be effective.
“I certainly think there are some exemplary teachers, and I think there might be some who are below standards. If you have an educator who measures at below standard, who is not a first year teacher, what is the consequence to that,” Connan said.
Montini said the new process gives the district the ability to fairly rate teachers and take actions against those who are not performing up to the standards the district and state expect.
“In this document if you are below standard and you do not make developing you’ll be recommended to the superintendent for termination. If you are developing you have two years to reach effective or you’ll be recommended for termination,” Montini said. “Compared to the old way of evaluating there’s a shortened timeline and there’s also a much greater responsibility to provide the feedback and support.”
Connan questioned how truthful the reviews will be. He pointed out that where he works there are times when someone will complain about an employee but the review shows that employee as exceptional.
“Are we going to be honest and really get a true measure of performance and consumer feedback,” Connan asked.
Montini said under the old evaluation system the teacher might know the principal is coming in to review the class and prepare for it. This evaluation, however, is based on multiple data points in various categories throughout the year.
“It’s sort of like baseball. If you go 0 for 4 in one game or if you go 4 for 4 one game, baseball is a long season and the averages are over time,” Montini said.
The district will review the data during the middle of the school year and at the end of the school year. Montini said that way there will be enough time to get proper input with the data.