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Big changes coming how school teachers, principals are evaluated

POULSBO — By the 2012-13 school year, about 20 percent of teachers will be critiqued using a new evaluation method.

By the 2015-16 school year, every teacher and principal in Washington will be required to be evaluated by that new set of criteria of what is expected of them.

What remains to be seen, even within the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, is how much the system switch will cost.

“We will be figuring out those costs,” OSPI spokesman Nathan Olson said. At this point, OSPI does not have an estimate on what it will cost to implement the new system. One contributing factor, he said, is the differing sizes of districts.

The North Kitsap School District receives money for staff development which could be used for staff training. This includes a Title II federal grant, which — if it is not cut from federal funding — will help fund training next year, according to Assistant Superintendent Shawn Woodward. The unfunded state mandate will switch school districts from a satisfactory/not satisfactory system of evaluation to a four-tiered measure of professional growth and development.

North Kitsap School District adopted a budget of $64 million for the 2011-12 school year. The school board made more than $2 million in cuts following a $2.7 million revenue plunge, caused by a drop in state funding and student enrollment. An estimated decrease of 114 more students is expected in the 2012-13 school year. The district receives more than $5,000 from the state in revenue for each full-time equivalent student.

According to Woodward, the new evaluation method will help teachers and principals know exactly what is expected of them. This includes eight criteria being developed by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction in collaboration with school districts participating in the pilot program, including North Kitsap.

The new system of evaluation was mandated by the Legislature in 2010, with the passage of Senate Bill 6696.

Next year, North Kitsap School District will participate in a test of the new evaluation system. About 20 percent of teachers and principals will participate. Some of the teachers selected will be provisional, which means they are either in their first year teaching in North Kitsap or third year teaching in Washington. Another 50 teachers are expected to volunteer to participate.

Woodward believes the new system will “demystify” the evaluation process. The current process, known as a binary process, is too vague and often leaves expectations of education staff members up for interpretation, he said. That can cause problems. For example, a teacher who may have received satisfactory scores in one school from the principal could teach the exact same way in another, but receive unsatisfactory scores.

The new system, however, has a learning curve.

During the Feb. 23 school board meeting, North Kitsap School Board member Tom Anderson raised concerns over the new system.

“You’re making this more complex,” Anderson said of evaluations. Using the same criteria for a kindergarten teacher and a shop teacher, for example, may not be fair, Anderson said. And not all teachers face the same issues in the classroom.

“They’re facing different challenges,” he said. “Somehow, that needs to be factored in.”

A goal of the pilot next year, Assistant Superintendent Chris Willits said, is to select a “broad-range” of teachers in a variety of disciplines. He said although teaching is a “complex craft,” he sees the new evaluation system being able to address those issues.

Woodward added the system will not be a “one-size fits all” system. Before starting the system districtwide, he hopes “best teaching practices” will be identified.

North Kitsap Educators Association President Chris Fraser raised concerns of her own. Though she feels participating in a pilot program is a “good step,” she outlined three major issues: the level of support students have outside of school, solid student growth data, and available teacher resources.

All three of those factors could have impacts on how students perform in school and, consequently, how teachers are evaluated.

Anderson added that teachers don’t all have the same experiences with students. Some may be less cooperative in the classrooms as others, for example.

“That’s why I feel being in the pilot is a good step,” Fraser said. “It will be up to us to gather those concerns that are overlooked with the new evaluation methods.”

The Marzano framework
North Kitsap School District administration is planning to implement the Causal Teacher Evaluation Model developed by Robert Marzano, based on his Art and Science of Teaching Framework and meta-analytic research.

The district had three models to choose from, including the Cel 5D framework and Charlotte Danielson framework. Woodward said North Kitsap chose Marzano's model because of validated research and studies, and some teachers in the district have also already received training with the Marzano model.

In addition, Marzano has worked closely with Richard DuFour, a leader in professional learning communities, which was implemented into the district throughout the past few years.

 

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