School administrators in White Plains will evaluate teachers and principals a little differently this year after the board of education approved a new system involving more classroom visits set to begin this fall.
The system, which will debut as a pilot in 2012-13 before it is revisited next spring, was approved during a meeting Tuesday night. The state education department has already approved the new program, meaning the school district is now eligible for critical Race to the Top funds and grants this year, said Lenora Boehlert, the district's assistant superintendent for human resources.
Under the new guidelines, evaluations will be based 60 percent on classroom observations, 20 percent on state metrics and 20 percent on "locally elected measures", which can vary from school to school.
In-class evaluations will take place at least four times a year for first-year teachers, three times a year for second-year teachers and twice a year for third-year and tenured teachers. The administrative visits will be unannounced for all teachers, with the exception of rookie teachers, who can plan for their evaluations.
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Teachers will also be evaluated on student growth and other categories.
New evaluation systems are required for all of the state's public schools this year to be eligible for certain funds and grants. Boehlert said she has been working with other administrators since the start of last year to develop a system that fits White Plains.
"We didn't just follow other districts," she said. "We looked at White Plains and what we needed for us."
Among other changes, each teacher's scores in a respective category will now be much more detailed. Teachers will also have more clear feedback of their strengths and weaknesses at the end of the year, Boehlert said.
"As you can see, there's so much to it," she added. "It's very detailed."
Principals within the district will also be evaluated two times a year, with a key metric being overall student improvement within their school. Each principal will also be required to select at least one goal to address during the school year and will be evaluated on their progress at the end of the year.
Although the state provides a rubric for how each district evaluates teachers and principals, Boehlert said a significant amount of time was spent working out details that will work best for White Plains.
"It means, really, really, negotiating what really is going to work," she said. "Bottom line, we wanted to not make this so cumbersome for teachers that it was difficult to comprehend, but we also wanted to make it meaningful—and I think we did that."
If given a score of ineffective, teachers and principals will be able to appeal their results first to a direct supervisor, then to the district superintendent. After that, scores can be appealed to a panel of two administrators and two pre-selected teachers, with the panel's decision going to the superintendent for a final ruling.
Permanent adoption of the system will require a vote from the teacher's union after the first year.