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Washington County school officials to expand evaluation system

The program, based on the Charlotte Danielson evaluation system, has been piloted in five schools

October 18, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com

A program for evaluating teachers, which takes into account student performance, will be expanded next semester into the rest of Washington County Public Schools, school system officials said.

The program, based on the Charlotte Danielson evaluation system, has been piloted in five schools and will have a “soft” expansion next semester so the actual evaluations from the program will not count against teachers, Associate Superintendent Mike Markoe said.

If the expansion goes well, the school system could continue to use the Charlotte Danielson evaluation model for the 2013-14 school year, which is the school year the state mandates local school systems use a teacher evaluation system that takes into account student performance, Markoe said.

Such a program is needed to comply with the federal Race to the Top program and the Maryland Education Reform Act of 2010. If the school system does not adopt its own evaluation system, it will have to use the state’s model.

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The pilot program, which began at five schools at the start of the 2011-12 school year, includes financial bonuses for participating teachers and administrators who are deemed to be effective or highly effective.

The financial bonuses are specific to the five pilot schools and are paid for using a $7.4 million federal Teacher Incentive Fund grant that cannot be altered, said Stacy Henson, project manager for the Teacher Incentive Fund.

This summer the school system paid almost $1 million to 148 teachers and school administrators who participated in the first year of the pilot program and were deemed to be effective or highly effective.

Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox said Wednesday that school system officials are working on a budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year and are not considering any financial incentives or bonuses for a new systemwide teacher evaluation system for that school year.

The Charlotte Danielson model has been an effective tool in helping teachers improve their classroom instruction, Markoe said. Charlotte Danielson, of The Danielson Group, is a well-known educational consultant who specializes in teacher evaluation.

Wilcox said he thinks Danielson’s model will become the new teacher evaluation system for the 2013-14 school year, but a final decision has not been made.

Under the pilot program, teachers are evaluated seven times a year, including two self-evaluations.

Teachers in the pilot program know when the evaluator will be in class, and the conversation between the evaluator and the subject is more two-sided, school system officials have said.

The pilot program provides a more-detailed checklist of skills for evaluators to review and does a better job of describing what the different teaching levels, such as proficient, look like, school system officials have said.

A different model is used to evaluate principals and assistant principals participating in the pilot program, Henson said Wednesday.

A committee is meeting this fall to determine whether the Danielson model also can be used to evaluate guidance counselors, speech pathologists and other personnel who work with students, Henson said.

The five schools that have been using the pilot program, called Performance Outcomes with Effective Rewards (POWER), are Northern and Western Heights middle schools, and Fountaindale, Winter Street and Salem Avenue elementary schools.

The plan is for the pilot program to continue through the 2014-15 school year, which is when the federal grant would end, Henson said.

Markoe said educators at other schools have been voluntarily observing teachers this semester using the Charlotte Danielson model.

During its Oct. 16 meeting, the school board unanimously approved two bid awards, one for training software that correlates to the 2011 version of the Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching, according to Markoe and Henson.

Portions of the training software will be for participants of the pilot evaluation program, at first, and then will be available to all teachers and school administrators starting in mid-February, according to Markoe and a presentation document for the board meeting.

The software contract was awarded to Teachscape, of San Francisco, for $178,681 for Oct. 17 to June 30, 2013, and for $217,180 for the second year through June 2014. The software contract will be funded using money from Race to the Top and Title II, or improving teacher quality, grants.

The software contract can be renewed for the July 2014 to June 2015 period if supplemental funds are available because Race to the Top grant funding ends July 1, 2014, according to the presentation document.

Teachscape was the sole bidder for the project.

Henson said Teachscape is the only company that has a contract with Danielson.

The school board also approved a bid on Oct. 16 for professional development services to support the pilot teacher evaluation program at the five participating schools. The support services include 12 full-day professional development and networking sessions, and 12 full-day support and planning sessions, according to a presentation document.

The support services contract was awarded to Chesapeake Coalition of Essential Schools, of North East, Md., for a low bid of $73,800 and $150 per hour for any additional services needed, according to the presentation document. The contract will be funded using a Teacher Incentive Fund grant.

The support services contract is effective, retroactively, from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, 2013. The contract can be renewed for two one-year periods, according to the presentation document.

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