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Firm evaluates specialist program

August 09, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

An educational consulting firm on Tuesday night gave the Washington County Board of Education the results of an evaluation of its Student Achievement Specialist Program.

There are about 50 student achievement specialists working in the school system with teachers on job development and training, officials said. The evaluation surveyed 1,286 faculty, administrators and specialists in a 20-minute, Web-based survey.

The evaluation will take place in three stages, and the board was briefed about the first stage Tuesday by Doug Walker, project manager with RMC Research Corporation, based in Arlington, Va.

The company found that teachers and principals feel that the specialists are knowledgeable and skillful in their roles, and that their implementation is significantly shaped by the school principal and the specialists' personalities.

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"There is a need for a clearer understanding by teachers of how they are to work with the (student achievement specialists)," the report stated.

The company also made several recommendations for ways to improve the role and function of the specialists. It was suggested that the roles of the specialists be re-examined, especially in middle and high schools, and that their role be adjusted toward coaching and professional development.

"If people aren't feeling good about the program, it will be difficult for them to benefit from it," Walker said.

Tom Janus, a candidate for the Board of Education, said during the meeting that he was not pleased with the use of the school system's funds for the evaluation, which he said was more of a survey of teachers and administrators.

He said because eight functions of the specialists already had been defined, there was no need to clarify the role of the specialists in later phases of the evaluation.

"This firm wants another year and more money to conduct an analysis," Janus said.

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