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Wednesday, January 23, 2013                                                                                                             Pg.18
 State’s new teacher evaluation system promising but time consuming
By Sharee Wanner
Staff writer
According to Box Elder School District officials, the new Utah State Office of Education’s educa­tor and administrator evaluation system being tested in the district has potential, but some changes would need to be made for it to be truly effective.
District Superintendent Ron Wolff said the new evaluation sys­tem “will make a difference if the program is implemented correctly and with fidelity,” however, while the new system provides bet­ter feedback for teachers and ad­ministrators, and will help imple­ment goals to improve education throughout all of Utah’s schools, it takes a significant amount of time.
“I believe that we’ll need to take a ‘wait and see’ approach regard­ing the value in relationship to ef­fort, while working hard to provide the USOE with the input they need to make adjustments,” Wolff said, adding, “It is much better than what we’re currently using.”
Assistant Superintendent Terry Jackson said it is premature to say what the effects will be long term for the teachers, but for the ad­ministrators it’s a lot of work so far.
Given the in-depth and labor-intensive nature of the new pro­gram, it has the potential to be nearly another full-time job for school principals. New teachers must receive full evaluations for the first three years of their em­ployments, and teachers with four or more years need to have partial evaluations every other year. Eval­uations are done by the adminis­tration personally. They document each observation—which means extra time to fill out the necessary paperwork and input data gath­ered on each teacher.
For teachers, the new pro­gram is divided into ten standards: learner development, learning dif­ferences, learning environments, content knowledge, assessment, instructional planning, instruc­tional strategies, reflection and continuous growth, leadership and collaboration, and profession­al and ethical behavior.
On the administrative level, there are six dispositions or stan­dards: visionary leadership, teach­ing and learning, management for learning, community collabora­tion, ethical leadership and sys­tem leadership.
The new evaluation system is one part of a three-part system to hold teachers and administrators accountable for the education stu­dent’s receive. The evaluation will affect not only salaries, but could hold implications for their em­ployment as well.
The district will also start pi­loting the second aspect of the evaluation program this spring. The second elements are surveys given to students and parents re­garding educator effectiveness. A third element, a new system to judge student progress, will be de­veloped and implemented before the spring of 2015. The process for evaluating student progress is es­sential to the total package, Wolff said.
Box Elder School District is one of six districts in the state to be a part of the new Utah Education­al Leadership Standards and the Utah Effective Teaching Standards program. Within the district, all but four schools have volunteered to be part of the two year pilot pro­gram that will evaluate and assess teacher and administrator perfor­mance.
Those involved will provide the state with input of what’s working and what’s not so the program can be more effective.
The state will then make chang­es based on the input. Some of them are simple, such as format­ting changes in the rubric. Content won’t be changed as much as edit­ing details and bugs in the system. The input received by the state is being reviewed and evaluated, and may be adjusted by the individual school as time progresses.
Box Elder Middle School Prin­cipal Jason Sparks said most of the problems he’s seen with the pro­gram are editing issues. Others are issues with the computer pro­gram. He said the program itself is fairly user friendly. He can use his iPad to take notes on the teacher as he observes and with the touch of an icon, he can refer back to the standards, and even load evalua­tions to state servers from the tab­let.
“The extra work of learning the new system is worth the effort, however,” Sparks said. “It gives teacher’s concrete expectations. Their current level of teaching is assessed and they have higher lev­els to aspire to.” Not every teacher will be expected to be at the high­est level at first. They will continue to learn.
As the program is developed within the district, the teachers will become more familiar with what it entails. There are just a few that have been selected for this first year of the program.
Evaluations take place twice each school year; November through December and January through February. During each period, administrators observe the teachers in formal and infor­mal visits to their classrooms. The evaluation standards are uniform. Because of the impact an evalua­tion has on the salary and employ­ment of each individual; accurate documentation is of utmost im­portance.
Superintendent Wolff said the evaluations have two primary pur­poses, the first, and most impor­tant, is to identify areas where edu­cators can grow and then monitor their development. The second is to place each educator into one of four categories that could impact his/her continued employment, as well as potential increases in pay.
There is also self-assessment that is taken by each teacher and administrator. Combined with the administrative evaluation, the self-assessment determines whether or not they will get a raise and if their employment will continue.
The evaluation process pro­vides opportunities for individu­als to assess where they are, look at what they’re doing well and set goals to help them improve.
Jackson said, “Look at it as an opportunity for growth and pro­fessional development, not a hoop to check off.”
Superintendent Wolff, Jackson and MaryKay Kirkland are working with administrators and teachers throughout Box Elder School Dis­trict to implement the new state requirements by the 2014-2015 school year


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