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School board approves teacher evaluation plan

Photo by Megan Spicer

Board of Education member Callie Sullivan asks questions during the school board meeting on March 25 at 35 Leroy Ave.

Statewide changes to the teacher evaluations will have little impact on the Darien Public Schools' plan, which already has several of the state-allowed modifications in place.

The state Performance Evaluation Advisory Council offered districts three options to increase the flexibility of the teacher evaluations.

Part of the evaluations requires that teachers work with administrators to determine a student academic growth goal for the year. The PEAC offered the option to require only one goal for the year. However, Darien will continue to require two goals to be met throughout the school year. Interim Superintendent of Schools Lynne Pierson said some districts can have as many as four required goals for the year.

Teachers must collect data to show that they have met their established goals.

"Collecting data can be a considerable task," Pierson said.

Teachers will not be judged this year or next based on scores their students receive from the Smarter Balanced Field Test given through the new Common Core State Curriculum.

"The goals are set within the larger context of goals," Pierson said. "We wouldn't want to see individual employees set goals without consideration of the larger context (of district goals)."

Additionally, Pierson said, the teacher evaluations are not meant to be used as a way of "weeding out" the poorly performing teachers.

"Someone who is performing poorly doesn't need a system like this to identify their weaknesses," Pierson said. "It's important to consider the purpose of an employee-evaluation process. What you hope is that the system further develops the employee."

At the urging of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, the group that developed the controversial teacher evaluation system -- the Performance Evaluation Advisory Committee -- passed revised guidelines Jan. 29 that will give all districts through March to seek a waiver through the 2014-15 school year.

"It is apparent we are trying to do a lot of things at once," Malloy told members of the PEAC. "Teachers are stressed. We have to recognize that."

Malloy said it is more important to get it right than to do it fast.

Lawmakers in this gubernatorial election year have been hearing from teachers all over the state who are concerned that between a new evaluation system, curriculum and tests, too much is being asked of them at once. Many also oppose an evaluation system that links job performance -- even fractionally -- to a test.

"There were concerns that were expressed by teachers, unions and various counsels about the impact for implementing this new teacher evaluation system," Pierson said. "Nevertheless, we went ahead like most districts." Read Full Article 

Pierson said the proposed change will not have a budgetary impact in Darien because administrators within the district are conducting the evaluations.

Malloy told the advisory group that he also wants a working committee developed, comprised of classroom teachers and administrators, to share obstacles in carrying out the evaluations and to make recommendations to make it work better.

"We are on the right road. We just have to take time," Malloy said.

The Board of Education accepted the teacher evaluation flexibility plan and must submit its plan to the state Department of Education by March 30.

mspicer@bcnnew.com; 203-330-6583;@Meg_DarienNews

Megan Spicer

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