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School Board Concerned About Upcoming State-Mandated Staff Evaluations

The new evaluation system is time- and labor-intensive and must be conducted annually, per state requirements.

The upcoming state-mandated teacher and staff evaluation plan is going to be a time- and labor-intensive process, the Fairfield Board of Education learned Tuesday.

The plan -- put in place by education reforms passed in June by the state legislature -- is the alternative to the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act requirements. Connecticut was granted an NCLB waiver in May.

Ten districts* in Connecticut are currently rolling out the new evaluation plan as a pilot program. So far, the districts reported the biggest challenge in implementing the process is time, according to Esther Bobowick, the director of development services for Cooperative Education Services, a state agency that works with 16 Fairfield County school districts, including Fairfield.

The teacher evaluation process takes about seven hours per teacher, Bobowick said in her presentation to the board. Plus, training administrators to conduct the evaluations takes between five and eight days. There's also at least a half-day orientation for teachers to understand new requirements.

The plan consists of a goal setting and planning conference between teacher and administrator to take place by Nov. 15, observations of performance and practice, mid-year check-ins, an end-of-year summative review between teacher and administrator, the reporting on the status of evaluations to the school board on June 1 and to the state Department of Education on June 30.  A final evaluation of a teacher must be filed by Sept. 15, after results of standardized testing are made available.

Teachers will be evaluated annually on equal parts outcome and practice, broken down as such:

  • 50 percent: outcome rating, based on student growth and development (45 percent) and whole-school student learning indicators or student feedback (5 percent);
  • 50 percent: practice rating, based on observations of performance and practice (40 percent) and peer or parent feedback (10 percent).

Once the evaluation is complete, teachers will be rated one of the following levels: exemplary, proficient, developing, and below standard.

Bobowick said that because of the demands on time, the pilot districts are trying a few ways to spread out the responsibilities, including designating department heads as administrators.

Fairfield school officials must look into how they plan to roll out the new process at the beginning of the next school year and file a draft plan with the state by April 15.

"This will be extraordinarily difficult to pull off," Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Title said. "This will be time- and labor-intensive, and I don't know how it's going to play out."

Board members were concerned with how the work will get done -- the administrator evaluation process is just as intensive, Bobowick said -- and frustrated at the lack of opportunity for their input.

"We're stuck with this and there's nothing the nine of us can do," Vice Chair Pamela Iacono said. "It's frustrating, and I think it's wrong."

She added that this process adds another dimension to the town's budget season.

"You hear these calls, 'please cut administrators, please cut administrators,'" but in the face of this new evaluation plan, it would be difficult to cut those positions, she said.

Bobowick agreed.

"If there was a way to hold off on cutting administrators for the next two years, it gives you time to put this plan in place, create good habits," she said.

Title said that "there are choices to be made," when it comes to planning and executing the new evaluation system.

For now, he said, "good people" are working on devising plans for both the teacher and administrator evaluations in time for the April 15 deadline, but "it will be a mad dash to the finish line." 

*Editor's note: The 10 districts taking part in the pilot evaluation plan are:

  • Bethany, Orange, and Woodbridge
  • Branford
  • Bridgeport
  • Capital Regional Education Council
  • Columbia, Eastford, Franklin, and Sterling
  • Litchfield and Region 6
  • Norwalk
  • Waterford
  • Windham
  • Windsor
Igor February 28, 2013 at 11:27 AM
Here they come.... The BS excuses why they can't cut administrators. I was kind of wondering what crisis would arise.
R. Ludlowe February 28, 2013 at 11:55 AM
Fairfield should simply say "Sorry, we cant be part of this program unless someone supplements our budget. We can't afford it." That's what would happen in the "real world."
Dawn Llewellyn February 28, 2013 at 12:25 PM
Ms. Bobowick mentioned that our district could also use Peer Evaluators. These are highly trained teachers who commit to 2 years of evaluation and are requested to evaluate 60 teachers throughout the year. It is working successfully in Denver Public Schools. She will be submitting guidelines to the State regarding Peer Evaluations. This would cut down on the amount of work expected from the Administrators; teachers could help them with this process.
Momof3kidsinFfld February 28, 2013 at 12:36 PM
I would think parent feedback would be something that should be considered as well.
Igor February 28, 2013 at 01:33 PM
R.Ludlowe, although I don't always agree with you. In this case you are right on the money (or lack of it in Fld's case). There must be thousands of different programs out there that are nice, but at this time we just can't afford it.
Caitlin Mazzola (Editor) February 28, 2013 at 02:05 PM
Thanks concerned for adding that info!
Caitlin Mazzola (Editor) February 28, 2013 at 02:07 PM
Hi Momof3kidsinFfld, parent feedback is included in the 10 percent under practice rating -- I had duplicated "student" when it should have said "peer or parent" feedback. It's updated now.
sadbuttrue February 28, 2013 at 02:24 PM
This is not a "nice" program that we can choose to initiate or not...this is a state-mandated program that ALL districts in CT MUST adopt...no choice in the matter, whether we like it or not...
Igor February 28, 2013 at 02:33 PM
Didn't say this is a nice program, I said there are a lot of nice programs out there. Pray tell how did Fld get selected amongst all the school districts in Ct. Just lucky? The BOE is going to play this as an ace card in order not to cut back.
sadbuttrue February 28, 2013 at 02:41 PM
Fairfield was not selected amongst all the school districts...ALL school districts in CT have to adhere to these new guidelines. Read the article. Watch the meeting on FairTV.
rick February 28, 2013 at 02:47 PM
I call dibs on being the first to evaluate our self-proclaimed CEO of our schools, David Title! Rick Morgan
R. Ludlowe February 28, 2013 at 03:28 PM
The Fairfield should hold its hands in the air and say "sorry, CT, we can't do it. Please help or let us be exempt." its this exact attitude of "nothing we can do about it, its the way it is" that brought us to where we are and puts "real" businesses out-of-business. There are ALWAYS other options.
maryHelen Melnick February 28, 2013 at 10:06 PM
first I want ot say Where in the world does our selectman and Dr. Title think we are going to come up with all the money for this budget. Families are already over strained and the seniors of this town are living a very little already.GET THROUGH YOUR HEADS BOARD OF EDUCATION AND THE SELECTMAN MONEY DOES NOT GROW ON TREES HERE EVEN THOUGH WITH THIS BUDGET YOU THINK SO.our pockets are not that deep and many are just exsisting. lets look at the administrative salaries they need to have a cap put on them. Then the contracted raises FROZEN.next we need to look at the benifits packages. The need to be reduced and many services put on the responsibility of those employed. That means the town ain't paying no more. then we need to do a evaluation of those administrators at the board of ed and evaluate their teaching skills. for some it has been years they have been in the classroom. If they can not operate with successful skills in a classroom... bye bye. then we look at other pension funds and how to cut there.dr. Title bonus he gets well not thisyear and his perks he can now pay out of pocket. He makes more than the selectman so it should be no problem. how many seniors have gotten perks from the social security department lately??? we also need to look at how we can tax the land of all the private clubs here in town. There is no way the resident of this town should be expected to pay the tax increase in this years budget.
maryHelen Melnick February 28, 2013 at 10:12 PM
fairfield has been the land of plenty for far too long. our former selectman managed to get himself a nice retirement package at the expensive of the taxpayers. He was the same on who campained to make fairfield afforable for the senior population andhe raises taxes how many times??? We all know his agenda was for himself. I feel all he deserved was a good kick in the pants and let this be a example that fairfielders are fed up with the manipulation of elected officials thinking that they are Gpod and can do as they please with out tax money. the time has come for them to account to us and to either work with the residents or pack up and leave so we can find more suited individuals that will work for the taxpayers.
Ajack March 02, 2013 at 12:11 PM
Exactly what I had predicted would happen. The town appears to be using a crisis to push it's spending agenda (again). Typical Liberal ploy (and a Republican ploy when they want something inane for one of their pet projects too) as used by our current commander in chief. It doesn't work well at the local level, where there are a lot of eyes watching what goes on here. Dr. Title was asked at the We the People meeting last month, what would happen if Fairfield refused to comply with State mandates, if it went it's own way. He sheepishly lowered his head and said he would 'get in trouble' and we stood to lose money ( $3,000,000.00 total from the State in bribes). So what. I also asked what the cost of all of these mandates were to the local people of Fairfield (this is what's going on here folks). No one has tracked these yearly costs of the mandates to find out if we actually come out ahead. You never get 'something' for nothing. It's about controlling us. A little here and little there and pretty soon, that $3,000,000.00 in state aid is being used up to satisfy some bureaucratic wish at the next government level. I bet that if the town were to tally up the costs of ALL of the mandates that are handed down to us from Hartford, that we spend far more than the $3,000,000.00 in bribes that are extended and offered to us. God, please people on the Board of Education grow a set and stand on your own feet for a change. Quit being a bunch of me toers. You claim to be smart, prove it.
Ajack March 02, 2013 at 12:22 PM
Just don't do it. Tell Hartford, that we will do it our way, that we won't 'play well with others' on this one. Go find an alternative method to test the teachers and then go and do the damn thing so that it works. Dr. Title, you claim to be so smart....prove it.... Earn your money for a change instead of sheepishly cow towing to Hartford. Grow a set. Refuse and see what happens.Worst that could happen is that we lose a few dollars. The mandates as was pointed out ...are costly. You and the Board act as if there is 'nothing' that can be done here. That's the worst excuse for leadership to operate under I have heard in a long time.The state has an agenda. Screw it. Why should the towns be so subservient to that agenda? It's as if they 'know' so much better than we the people, what to do and how to do it. Let them pay for it if it's so damn important. DAVID , be a leader , you are paid to do this , you were hired to do this and paid handsomely....LEAD!!!!! Don't be afraid, David....you can do this if you want. Or can you?

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