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Closer review

School starts, teachers face evaluations

September 6, 2012
By JOHN BORGOLINI , The Leader Herald

GLOVERSVILLE - As the new school year gets under way in local districts this week, teachers are facing closer scrutiny.

Starting this school year, all teachers will be evaluated and held accountable for student achievement as part of state legislation passed in February.

Some local educators say they don't know exactly what to expect with the new evaluation system.

Article Photos

Above, Lisa Washburn, left, of Gloversville, a Meco School nurse and the grandmother of
prekindergartner Aidan Himpsl, adjusts Himpsl’s backpack before the opening day today at the school.
The Leader-Herald/ Bill Trojan

Michael Vanyo, the new superintendent of Gloversville Enlarged School District, said the state's schools are going to have some hurdles to get over, but in the long run, teachers are going to be better, so he supports the new evaluation system.

"I think it's just a learning process right now," Vanyo said. "All of us are learning on the job to get a better understanding of how to work with this. We understand that this is a requirement we have to deal with, and we are going to work together to become more effective."

Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Board of Cooperative Educational Services Superintendent Patrick Michel said the new system standardizes teacher evaluations.

According to the governor's office, the system rates teachers on a 100-point system - 60 points for teacher performance and 40 points for student achievement in state and local assessments.

The majority of the teacher performance will be assessed by classroom observations by an administrator or principal. There will be at least one unannounced observation.

The remainder of the 60 points will be based on defined standards, including observations by independent trained evaluators, peer classroom observations, student and parent feedback from evaluators, and evidence of performance through student portfolios.

Student achievement will be based on 20 points for state tests and 20 points for three testing options, including state tests, third-party assessments or tests approved by the state Education Department, and locally developed tests subject to SED review and approval.

Districts also will be able to use the option of all 40 points being measured solely by state tests.

With this being the first year of the evaluations, Michel and other educators say they are uncertain of how it will work.

"[The evaluations are] going to be as effective as teachers and administrators treat them," Michel said. "I think [the educators] are professionals, and they'll give their best effort to make them work properly. I look at this as the experimental year. [We'll] give the feedback to the state and work all the bugs out."

The rating system for the evaluations include 64-0 as being "ineffective," 74-65 as "developing," 90-75 as "effective" and 100-91 as "highly effective."

The state will determine the score for all teachers. The results for a given teacher only will be available by request of the parents whose child had the teacher.

Vanyo said teachers are aware of the changes but still don't know what to expect.

"It's difficult this year because it affects all teachers. We're in a transition period," he said. "I think one thing teachers are looking for is guidance because they want to understand how they are going to be evaluated."

Dan Russom, superintendent of the Oppenheim-Ephratah School District, said he expects the new evaluations to create more work for principals.

"It's going to increase, especially for the principals who are going to spend a tremendous amount of time with observations," Russom said. "Our principal is going to have to administer 80 observations. We're trying to figure out how we can do this. It's going to be difficult."

If a teacher receives an ineffective rating, the district would have to develop an improvement plan.

"If they're ineffective or developing, we would have to put them on an improvement plan on specifically how they can improve and how they can become an effective teacher," Russom said. "Hopefully, the next year they move from ineffective to developing or from developing to effective."

He explained that if a teacher gets an ineffective rating in two consecutive school years, the district has the option to dismiss the teacher, but it's not mandatory. He said he's not worried about having to deal with that decision.

"I firmly believe that none of our teachers on staff are ineffective," Russom said. "I believe at this point, we won't have to deal with it, but time will tell."



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