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New Manchester school district standards to give teachers more leeway

New Hampshire Union Leader

August 26. 2014 10:26PM

MANCHESTER — Teachers considered ineffective would have more time to improve under a revised evaluation system the school district is moving forward with.

The new plan for teachers and administrators, outlined on Tuesday before the school board's Curriculum and Instruction Committee, is in several ways less rigorous than the previous plan.

The revised standards have the support of the principals union and the teachers union, the Manchester Education Association.

Among the differences between the current system and the new one:

• Teachers found to be ineffective will now be given two to three years to improve before a recommendation not to renew their contract is made. The current system gives such teachers six to 10 months to improve.

• Teachers will be evaluated through multiple “mini observations,” rather than one or two “formal observations” over two to three years. Only novice teachers would get a formal observation, once in five years.

• Teachers will also be evaluated based on “student learning objectives,” progress measures devised by teachers and administrators.

No evaluations will be linked to student performance assessment tests, although this is a feature of the “State Model System” proposed by the state Department of Education’s Task Force on Effective Teaching in 2013.

“The Task Force strongly recommends that all districts include the use of student learning results, including statewide standardized achievement results (NECAP and eventually Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) in applicable subjects and grades," the 2013 report states.

The report also notes that all Title I schools are required “to implement an educator evaluation system aligned with the State Model System.”

Both the current system and the revised one primarily affect schools targeted for special federal funding because of poor test scores and disparities between the performance of minority and white students.

The evaluation system was first developed a few years ago for “schools in need of improvement” (SIG). Last year, a broader group of 10 schools was designated part of the “Innovation Zone,” making the schools eligible for federal Title I funding.

Polly Golden, the district’s director of federal projects, said the new system will be rolled out over the next couple of school years.

“SIG schools already have this in place,” she said. “Our Title I schools need to think about piloting. They need to be in place a year from now. Our non-Title I schools need more time and training.”

Pat Snow, the executive director of the Innovation Zone, said, “The whole goal is for teachers to improve on their practice. The more frequent feedback from principals will enhance their performance.”

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