Maryland moved Monday to begin evaluating teachers based in part on how well their students learn their lessons — a significant change that will be tried first in seven school districts, including
The decision, made despite opposition from teachers, keeps
The Maryland Council for Educator Effectiveness, appointed by the governor last year to develop a new teacher and principal evaluation system, held firm on the requirement that 50 percent of a teacher's job rating will be based on student performance, though state tests would hold less weight than first anticipated.
"I think this will make the teachers and the process better in our state. We are going to look in a very serious way at the progress of students and what can we do to accelerate that," said state school superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick.
After revisions, the evaluation system will take effect in the 2013-2014 school year.
"Overall, I think this has been a hard process, but on most elements we have gotten to a consensus," said
The approval came on a 13-7 vote, with all teachers on the panel voting against the new evaluation system. The teachers, many of them union representatives, voted in line with the stance of the National Education Association, which represents most teachers in the state.
Even Elizabeth Weller, vice president of the Maryland State Education Association and co-chair of the panel with Grasmick, voted against the report. Weller said the panel had agreed to disagree and that the final evaluation system will take into account what is learned during the pilot this coming school year.
"This is a beginning, not an end," she said.
After the new evaluation system is tested in seven districts, the pilot will continue statewide the following year.
The districts that will use the system in the coming school year are
The new process gives districts flexibility in deciding what they will count as student performance and what factors they can use, but only if a district can reach a negotiatiated agreement with its teachers union. If no agreement is reached, districts must use a more restrictive system developed by the panel.
The document that describes the new process is complex, but Jim Foran, the assistant state superintendent for academic reform and innovation, said it will be "a sea change" from the way most
The process has several parts. Fifty percent of a teacher's evaluation is to be based on a qualitative assessment by the principal, including lesson plans, the environment of the classroom and other factors that the local school system can determine.
Another 30 percent will be determined by the state and must include assessments such as the state test. However the state test may be only one of three assessments of student progress. The others will be chosen at least next year by the district from a long list, including unit tests called benchmarks, portfolios that include samples of student work and other factors.
The last 20 percent of the evaluation will be chosen by the school district and will be assessments of student work as well.
Nearly three-quarters of teachers in the state teach in a subject that is not covered by state tests, so a variety of methods have to be used. The panel recommended writing samples or even small group videos of performances for drama and music teachers.
Once principals finish the evaluation, they must rank the teachers as ineffective, effective or highly effective.
Much of the debate Monday centered on whether teachers could be considered effective if they score poorly on the portion of the evaluation that grades them on student progress. Teachers representing unions said they believed the system would be weighted too heavily in favor of student progress, but the panel's vote went against that view.
Source: Baltimore Sun
Source: Baltimore Sun