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.
"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
- Capital Regional Education Council
- Columbia, Eastford, Franklin, and Sterling
- Litchfield and Region 6