State-mandated staff evaluations concern school officials
School officials on Tuesday expressed concerns over implementing a new teacher and administrator evaluation plan required under education reform laws passed in June by the state legislature.
"This is going to be incredibly labor intensive to do, and we really don't know how it's going to play out," Superintendent of Schools David Title said at Tuesday night's board meeting.
Esther Bobowick, director of professional development services for Cooperative Educational Services, gave a presentation on the state-mandated plan -- An Act Concerning Educational Reform -- to the board. Cooperative Educational Services is a state agency that helps 16 Fairfield County school districts collaborate on educational services and programs.
School administrators must have a draft plan for implementing the new evaluations for the 2013-14 school year by April 15. Title said the state has offered an option for partial implementation for 2013-14 but that would not be practical because some teachers would still be on the old evaluation process.
The new evaluations, which rate on the levels of exemplary, proficient, developing and below standard, require an orientation, planning and goal-setting conference by Nov. 15, ongoing evidence collection and a mid-year check-in with teachers. Other requirements include an end-of-year review and conference with each teacher, reporting on status of evaluations to the Board of Education on June 1 and then the state Department of Education on June 30. Finally, an assessment revision has to be filed by Sept. 15.
Pamela Iacono, the board's vice chairwoman, also expressed reservations toward the mandated evaluations, which have been offered to states as a waiver to adhering to federal No Child Left Behind legislation.
"I think it's a good idea in theory," she said "I have absolutely no confidence that this is going to be pulled off well in such a short period of time."
During her presentation before board comments, Bobowick said the entire evaluation process, being piloted at some schools around the state, takes about seven hours per teacher, which translates into an additional 42 days of staff time.
"The No. 1 challenge that I'm hearing about is around time," she said.
Schools piloting the evaluations are considering designating department heads as administrators to help with the evaluations, while others hold group pre-conferences, she said.
"They're all looking at possible ways to save time to accommodate a very time-intensive process," she said.
She also said that evaluation training takes five to eight days.
The administrator evaluation process is similar to the teacher evaluation process, and is also very time-intensive, she said.
Under the new guidelines, student growth and development account for 45 percent of the evaluation, while student feedback accounts for 5 percent, both classified under outcome ratings.
Meanwhile, performance and practice make up another 40 percent, and parent or peer feedback take up 10 percent, both under practice ratings.
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