Woodland updates evaluation model

BEACON FALLS — Woodland Regional High School administrators have developed a new teacher evaluation model in hopes of better assessing the competency and performance of the district’s teachers.

The model will go into effect this September and will replace the existing plan, which has been used in the previous two school years. The state mandates that school boards must regularly update their teacher evaluation models.

The Region 16 Board of Education, which met last Wednesday, and administrators of WRHS were concerned that the old model was inefficient and needed to be improved.

“It was something that over the past two years we saw needed revising,” board Chairwoman Lisa DeGoes said.

Administrators felt the old evaluation system did not allow for sufficient personal contact with each teacher.

“We had concerns about the old model,” WRHS Principal Arnold Frank said. “We felt like it may not have given us enough opportunity to work with teachers and evaluate them close enough.”

The new evaluation model, which administrators said would be clearer and more fluid, is a three-step process: induction phase, professional growth phase and professional assistance phase.

In the induction phase, teachers will create individual classroom plans for the school year and work on them throughout the year. In exit interviews at the end of each year, teachers will have to prove that they achieved their goals by citing evidence and data.

In the professional growth phase, administrators will observe teachers at least six times a year, which will mark a substantial increase over the previous observation requirement of 45 minutes annually. Administrators will observe teachers at different times during the school day and evaluate them for competency.

In the last phase, the personal assistance phase, each teacher will be assigned a trained and senior mentor. The teacher and mentor will work hand-in-hand to facilitate the teacher’s progress, and a report will be issued by the mentor every 45 days.

The mentors will also submit final reports on each teacher’s progress at the end of the school year, and the findings in those reports could result in anything from promotions to terminations. All terminations would be open to appeal.

The new evaluations will allow more cooperation with the teacher and will give them a voice in the process, administrators said.

“The new system offers teachers the opportunity to have a lot more input in the evaluation and makes self-evaluation possible,” DeGoes said.

Given that the teacher is making the goals and working with a mentor, he or she will know exactly what needs to be done throughout the year.

“With this new evaluation model, the paperwork is much more fine-tuned and to the point, and allows us to focus more on what each individual teacher needs to work on,” Frank said.

The state will provide a $500 stipend to mentors if they fulfill all requirements.

The Board of Education has set aside $7,000 for additional staff development in this year’s budget to aid this new system.

Administrators will meet during a full-day workshop on August 18 to discuss the new plan and shape changes to improve instruction across the board.

“Our goal, as always, is to improve instruction,” Region 16 Superintendent James C. Agostine said. “This will due so by clarifying roles and responsibilities better because the most important thing is clarity and timeline of how things are done, and when they’re done.”