A new method for evaluating teachers and principals will mean more work for the evaluators but could help educators improve, Parkland School District officials said.
Parkland Schools Superintendent Richard Sniscak briefed the school board Tuesday night on Pennsylvania’s new teacher evaluation system signed into law by Gov. Tom Corbett in June.
Under the current evaluation model, teachers are simply rated satisfactory or unsatisfactory, which gives them little direction on what they need to do better, Sniscak said. The new method “is more prescriptive,” he said.
Under the new system, which goes into effect for teachers starting in the 2013-2014 school year, 50 percent of the evaluation will be based on observation and evidence, including of the classroom environment, preparation and instruction. The other 50 percent will be based on student performance, which will include -- but not be limited to -- standardized test scores.
Of that 50 percent, 15 percent will look at school wide data, such as standardized test scores, graduation rate and attendance. Another 15 percent will gauge “teacher specific” data, which includes students’ improvement on standardized tests and the progress of Special Education students. The remaining 20 percent will be elective information chosen by the school district and approved by the state Department of Education. That might include such work as students’ projects and portfolios.
School Board member Roberta Marcus said overall the new evaluation system should help teachers improve.
“It’s not based on whether your principal likes you,” she said. “This is good for kids.”
But she had two complaints about it. “It’s an unfunded mandate,” Marcus said, pointing out that it’s a lot more work for teachers and administrators. And it doesn’t apply to charter schools.
Parkland participated in the second phase of the state pilot project on the new evaluations and will be part of the third phase this coming school year, Sniscak said. Diane Neikam, Parkland’s curriculum supervisor for elementary education, said most of the teachers seemed to like the new system because it spells out what’s expected of them and what they need to do to meet those expectations.
If a teacher receives two evaluations rated as “failing” or “needs improvement” within 10 years or less, the district must put in place an improvement plan for that teacher. The new law says those evaluations are not subject to the state’s Right to Know law.
The new evaluation system for principals and non-teaching professionals is to start in the 2014-2015 school year.