Local News

Teacher evaluations simplified this year

One of the complicated factors in the teacher performance appraisal system will be simplified this year with every Highlands County School District teacher receiving an "effective" rating.

According to state law, school districts developed the evaluation system, basing half of it on the principal's evaluation of the teacher and the other half on how students improved on state assessment tests.

A complicated formula, called the "value added model," measures the teacher's impact on their students' academic performance. Teachers are ranked as highly effective, effective, needs improvement and unsatisfactory.

In October, districts began developing an assessment system for those teaching courses that are not assessed by state exams such as FCAT or the end-of-course exams.

The district submitted four plans to the Florida Department of Education before receiving final approval on March 4.

But, due to legislative changes that delayed the process, the district and the teacher's union have agreed to "hold harmless" all instructional personnel by assigning an "effective rating" for the student growth component, equal to 41 points, in the 2013-14 performance appraisal.

Deputy Superintendent Rodney Hollinger said the evaluation process is inequitable because some subjects have no statewide testing.

"We agree with the union and the Superintendents Association agrees with the union," he said.

The 41 points came from a review of last year's data, Hollinger said. It's in the "higher range" of the "effective" rating.

Hollinger noted that the teachers union contract calls for notifying and training teachers on the evaluation system within 30 days of the start of the school year.

But, when new legislation required a plan and the department of education kept turning down the district's plans, that portion of the contract was not fulfilled, he said.

The school board will vote on approval of the teacher appraisal agreement, which is titled Memorandum of Understanding #3, at its meeting Tuesday.


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