Wanda Twigg, outgoing president of EASMC, said this month that although she still maintains that the current system should be kept in place, she feels better about the change as details of the new evaluation system develop.
Teachers participating in a pilot program this year in five St. Mary’s public schools also are warming to the idea, Twigg said. School administrators said they signed on to be part of the pilot program so they could help shape the new system.
“There is still angst . . . [but] they realized that they could do it,” she said.
The current system, which in St. Mary’s is based largely on principal observations, still will be used and will account for 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation. The rest will be determined using a variety of measures based on students’ performance, including test results.
Teachers will be rated on 16 elements — 30 percent will be from state-derived tests and assessments (such as the Maryland School Assessments or the High School Assessments) and 20 percent from school-based assessments, daily classroom performance or other locally administered student-growth measures.
Teachers will be rated as ineffective, developing, effective or highly effective for each measure based on averages of student performance.
“We have put together a constellation of measures that truly reflects our teachers’ great work,” said Scott Smith, St. Mary’s director of secondary schools. “We’re leading and defining the state pilot.”
Near the beginning of each school year, teachers will work with administrators to determine which group of student test scores will become part of the teacher’s evaluation.
For elementary classroom teachers, it most likely will be the entire group of students in their classes, said Jeff Maher, St. Mary’s director of teaching, learning and professional development. For others, such as an art or music teacher, the group might consist of only fifth-graders or third-graders in a given year, so as not to include more than a few dozen students for a given teacher.
In high school, where most teachers have at least a couple of different classes, they would pick one or two subjects, such as all of their algebra students or all of their biology students. Students’ test scores from other subjects would not count toward the teacher’s evaluation, Maher said.
Special education teachers would be evaluated on whether students they teach show appropriate growth based on their individual education plans.
Also, any students who are deemed habitually absent by missing 20 or more days will not have their test scores counted toward the teacher’s evaluation.
Maher said one of the most important things he heard from teachers was that they can teach students as long as they come to class. It would be unfair to use test scores from students who are not regularly in class as a measure of a teacher’s success, he said.
“This will define our work for a number of years to come,” county schools Superintendent Michael Martirano said. Regardless of whether educators and others involved with schools agree with using student performance for teacher evaluations, St. Mary’s has come up with a comprehensive plan, he said.
“We’re well ahead of that curve,” he said, adding that other counties are hoping to emulate what St. Mary’s educators are putting together.
The pilot is running concurrently with the existing evaluation system this school year at Chopticon High, Leonardtown Middle, Mechanicsville Elementary, Lexington Park Elementary and Benjamin Banneker Elementary schools. Six other school systems have select schools piloting new evaluations — in Charles, Kent, Prince George’s, Queen Anne’s and Baltimore counties and Baltimore city. The pilot will expand to all Maryland public schools next school year, although the current evaluation process still will be in place and is what will count.
The new evaluation system is set to be fully implemented in all Maryland public schools by the 2013-14 school year, said Linda Dudderar, chief academic officer.
Dudderar said that, for the most part, as teachers learned more about the new system, they became more comfortable and began to trust that it would be fair.
However, she said, she thinks it is unfair for a new assessment series that replaces the Maryland School Assessments to go into effect at virtually the same time a new teacher evaluation system based on student test scores begins. Maryland plans to replace some of its standardized state assessments to match the new Common Core Curriculum that better corresponds to assessments in other states.