Region 16 board backs new evaluation plan

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Reg-16-Office
REGION 16 — The Board of Education has approved a proposed new evaluation system for teachers and administrators.

The system was revamped to meet new state guidelines for evaluations, Michelle LoRusso, a language arts coordinator and member of the teacher evaluation committee, told the board during its April 24 meeting.

Under the plan, 40 percent of each teacher’s evaluation will be based on data collected from observations. Teachers will be rated on certain indicators including learning environment, planning and preparation, instruction and professional responsibilities, explained LoRusso, who presented the plan to the board.

“These are the things an evaluator would expect to see or to look for when they’re going into a classroom or a learning environment so that they can make their decisions on where to rate the teacher,” LoRusso said.

Another 10 percent of the evaluation will be based on parent feedback on surveys.

Student learning measures, or student growth, will comprise 45 percent of the evaluation. Student growth will be measured by standardized state assessments, such as the Connecticut Mastery Test, or other measures, such as portfolios of student work, in cases where standardized assessments don’t apply, such as dance or music classes.

The remaining 5 percent will be based on student feedback on surveys.

“We’re asking the students, how are we doing,” LoRusso said.

The parent surveys will be combined with the observations to make up a teacher’s overall performance rating. Student growth and surveys will make up a teacher’s outcomes rating. The two scores will then be combined in a rubric to determine a teacher’s overall evaluation of highly effective, proficient, developing or needs improvement.

LoRusso explained the committee decided to replace the state’s recommended ratings of exemplary for the highest score and below standard for the lowest rating with highly effective and needs improvement respectively to add a more positive connotation to the ratings.

Teachers who are rated needs improvements will receive more hours of observation and support, LoRusso said.

LoRusso took time during her presentation to address a misconception about the parent and student surveys. She explained the surveys, which will be administered at the end of the school year, will be generalized and not target any specific teacher.

“Instead they would rate teaching and support staff as a whole,” she said.

The scores from the surveys will be used to develop a school-wide improvement plan, she said.

“It’s not targeting individual teachers it’s working together as a whole to improve,” LoRusso said.

LoRusso said the point of the new system is to develop and grow educators in the district.

“With all of this it’s not just evaluating a teacher but it’s then using that to develop careers and grow our educators professionally,” she said.

Board member Robert Hiscox said parent and student feedback is vital and liked how the surveys will not target teachers specifically.

Hiscox did raise a concern though regarding how much time administrators would be devoting to observations and what will happen to the other work they need to get done.

“There’s only so many hours in a day,” he said.

Jayne Lanphear, Long River Middle School principal, said administrators will be spending many more days evaluating teachers. She said some of the administrators’ work will have to be shifted to teacher leaders in the schools.

After addressing Hiscox’s concern, Lanphear gave a brief overview of how administrators will be evaluated under the plan.

“It mirrors very closely to the teacher document,” she said.

Under the plan, 40 percent of an administrator’s evaluation will be based on their performance, including how they align to policies, work to close the achievement gap and professional development, 10 percent will be based on stakeholder feedback, teacher effectiveness will make up 5 percent and the remaining 45 percent will be based on student growth.

“Our charge would be to progress to year to year to year,” she said.

The board unanimously approved the proposal to submit to the state for review.