District to change teacher evaluations
By JUDY SHERARD
USD 489 is changing the method and frequency at which district teachers are evaluated.
Board of education members approved the change at Monday night's board meeting.
"This is one of the things that we haven't been doing well -- is evaluating teachers, and one of the things the board wanted to emphasize," board president Greg Schwartz said at Monday's meeting.
"Prior to this year, we set goals for our professional development and had to have pre- and post-conferences with our administrators to meet the professional development guidelines, achieving the points," Kathy Wagoner, bargaining unit co-chair, wrote in an email. "Now we are separating the evaluation system from the professional development piece of our profession."
The new language states first- and second-year licensed employees will be evaluated before the 60th day of each semester. Third- and fourth-year licensed employees will be evaluated each year before Feb. 15. After the fourth year of employment, evaluations will be at least once every three years before Feb. 15.
"We really feel like we need the time to learn the new tool, so our recommendation would be following the state guidelines," Shanna Dinkel, interim curriculum director, said at a labor management meeting last month.
To learn the new evaluation system and use it correctly, administrators should focus on evaluating fewer teachers rather than evaluating everyone, interim superintendent Dean Katt said.
The evaluation will include formal observation and an informal observation -- a classroom walk through. The observation tool was designed by district administrators who collaborated to identify what they consider good instruction.
"The teacher will have immediate feedback," Dinkel said. "This will email them what the administrator saw."
The new evaluation tool also will generate reports for the board, administrators and teachers that will show data and trends of what's happening in the classroom.
The bargaining unit already has approved using the e4E evaluation tool developed by the Southwest Plains Regional Service Center for this year.
"We discussed this at the recent Labor Management meeting and did not feel the teachers would have a problem with this change," Kim Schneweis, bargaining unit co-chair, wrote in an email.
Board attorney Bill Jeter said that isn't the case for the board.
"We need to approve the motion to make it effective this school year," Jeter told the board Monday night. "If you don't, then we're back with the current language."
After this initial pilot year, the evaluation program could be a negotiated item for teachers' contracts next year, Jeter said.