MARIETTA - Area school districts are looking at ways to handle the increased time demands a new teacher evaluation system will place on principals.
The system, which requires at least 50 percent of the evaluation to be based on student growth, is being piloted next year by some districts and is required for the 2013-14 school year. It requires teachers to be evaluated once a year, including two periods of classroom observation, each with a teacher conference before and after. If a teacher's contract is expected to be non-renewed, a third observation period is added.
"I've heard estimates of anywhere from 15 to 20 hours per teacher to do the evaluations," said Frontier Local Schools Superintendent Bruce Kidder.
Depending on contract language, all teachers in a district may not be evaluated every year. When they are, there are two evaluations, each with one period of observation.
At its June meeting the Frontier Local Board of Education approved moving Lawrence Elementary Principal Bill Creighton to Frontier High/Middle School part-time as an assistant principal in part to help with the new evaluation process.
As a participant in the Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) program, Frontier is piloting the new evaluation process in the upcoming school year.
Kidder said he likes the concept of the evaluation process, but is concerned about the time it will take and the additional costs that will be incurred as districts try to come up with ways to assess student growth in areas not measured by state tests.
Marietta City Schools will be using the new evaluations on teachers who opt in to the TIF program, which provides additional compensation in exchange for additional professional development activities. Although he expects the new process to be more time-consuming, Superintendent Harry Fleming said that at this point, the district is not planning any changes in personnel or shifts in responsibility.
Fleming said the district may have to comply with the terms of the evaluation system agreed to in the current contract in addition to the new one. They're currently looking at a way to accomplish that through a single, blended process.
"There's a lot we're still learning about this," he said.
The Wolf Creek Local school district's current contract with the Wolf Creek Local Education Association says principals will evaluate teachers. However, Superintendent Bob Caldwell said the district is looking at ways to ease some of that burden on the principals of Waterford Elementary and High schools.
"It is a very difficult and cumbersome, time-consuming evaluation process," he said.
According to a clause in the teacher contract agreed to earlier this year, the district will change over to the new evaluation system for the 2013-14 school year.
Caldwell said hes would like to see the definition of who can conduct the evaluations to expand when the new language - which must be approved by the union and the board - is enacted.
Although the law allows for people outside a school district to conduct evaluations, but Caldwell said he would want someone who has done more than meet the state requirements for an evaluator to do that work.
"They'd have to know our philosophy here in the district," he said.
"We want it to be about instructional improvement."
In anticipation of this, the district has sent a mentor teacher and its Race to the Top coordinator to evaluation training as well.
Caldwell said he feels like the new process is a tough fit in some ways because it's aimed at solving a problem he doesn't feel his district has.
"There's a mindset that exists that poor teachers are allowed to stay in the classroom. And I don't think that exists in the Wolf Creek Local school district," he said.
Districts can pass a policy stating that teachers who are rated accomplished, the highest of four classifications under the new system, need only to be evaluated every other year and with only one observation provided they meet other requirements.