SOUTHINGTON — Since the school district created a new teacher evaluation system this year to comply with state mandates, administration has found that the new way of assessing is more time consuming.
Assistant Superintendent Karen Smith told the Board of Education during its meeting last week that they are still working through the evaluation system but had found “it takes approximately three hours for one formal evaluation per teacher from start to finish.”
Guidelines were set by the state and the school had to comply with them for the 2013-14 school year. A group of teachers, coordinators and administrators put together a draft for an educator evaluation system that follows the state guidelines. It was sent to the state Department of Education in July and was approved. Since then, the group has been continuing working through their evaluation system.
The school board does not agree with the unfunded mandate and also thinks the lengthy evaluations will be a burden on teachers and administration.
While Terri Carmody, the Republican vice chairwoman of the school board, agrees with having evaluations, she doesn’t agree with the lack of funding and how many have to be done each year.
“Do I think it’s a bit overboard with amount of time we have to spend without giving us any financial help in which to do this? Yes I do,” Carmody said. “It’s is a very sophisticated method of evaluating teachers. It is a mandate from the state (and) we have no choice.”
According to the school district’s website, there will be three performance conversations between the teacher and the evaluator, at the beginning, middle and end of the school year. The system also has four categories on teacher performance. They include student learning, which counts for 45 percent, teacher performance and practice (40 percent), parent feedback (10 percent) and schoolwide student learning (5 percent). The categories were based on research and national standards.
“It’s going to eat up a lot of administration time,” said David Derynoski, a Democrat and member of the school board. “It’s not just coming in and observing class, there is data addressed early on, (an) onsite review, and then the follow up. I think they’re being somewhat conservative when say three to three-and-a-half hours… I think it depends on who is being evaluated.”
Derynoski said as time goes on the school board will be able to adjust and “have a better perspective” of the system. He said it’s still very early to tell what will happen.
Smith said last week that the group will continue to evaluate and document the process and will give the school board a thorough report about the positive and negatives of the system at the end of the school year.