Districts plan pilot of new faculty evaluations

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Evaluations will be included in state accountability

By Kelly Cantrall

Local school districts are preparing to pilot a new evaluation system for teachers and principals in the next school year, a system which will be included in the state accountability model that monitors the success of districts.

The effort, known as Professional Growth and Effectiveness System, was created through House Bill 180, which was signed in April by Gov. Steve Beshear.

Districts are required to pilot the program with several teachers in one school or in up to 10 percent of the schools next year, said Nannette Johnston, Hardin County Schools superintendent.

HCS also plans to pilot a new superintendent evaluation next year, if the board approves the plan at tonight’s meeting.

HCS plans to pilot the program with five to nine teachers at Heartland, Lakewood and Radcliff elementary schools, West Hardin Middle School and Central Hardin High School, according to a decision paper to be presented to the HCS board at tonight’s meeting.

Elizabethtown Independent Schools will pilot the program at Elizabethtown High School, but the other schools in the district will use it to a degree for their own purposes, said Kelli Bush, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

The effectiveness system uses several measures to monitor teacher and principal performance. Each measure has a rubric to determine how well a teacher is performing in that area. Johnston said this approach reflects teachers’ development and gives them guidance when working to improve.

Johnston and Bush expect the new system to improve classroom teaching. Johnston said she believes it will contribute to the professional growth of the faculty.

“I’m very impressed with it,” she said.

Bush said having a quality teacher in a classroom is a critical element in achieving student success.

“It’s going to be a very positive program and initiative because it’s all about improving teaching,” she said.

In order for Kentucky to receive a waiver from participating in No Child Left Behind, the evaluation system must be included in district accountability, said Nancy Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department of Education.

The evaluation will be an additional piece in the accountability model, and it will be included starting in the 2014-15 school year.

Rodriguez said state officials have yet to determine exactly how the system will be included as part of district accountability.

Johnston said she is concerned about its inclusion because she sees a possibility for its abuse, in which schools and districts will try to inflate evaluations because of the high stakes of district accountability. She sees the system working most effectively as something separate from the accountability model.

“I think the tool stands for itself,” she said.

Bush said she’s withholding judgment until she sees how the system will be used to evaluate schools’ performance. She said teacher performance is very much a part of school performance.

Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747 or kcantrall@thenewsenterprise.com.