Mounds View Schools to redesign teacher appraisal system
New plan must be ready for 2014-15 school year
The Mounds View School Board on Dec. 11 heard about the formation of a task force that will develop a new appraisal system for teachers.
In a memo to the School Board, Director of Human Resources John Ward wrote that during the last Minnesota legislative session, the Legislature added language around both principal and teacher appraisal.
The principal evaluation plan needs to be in place for the 2013-14 school year, and the teacher evaluation plan needs to be in place for the 2014-15 school year.
The Mounds View School District is “ahead of the game,” Ward said, because a new appraisal system for principals is currently in place for this school year.
A task force comprised of eight teachers and a number of administrators has been charged with examining the district’s current teacher appraisal system and modifying it to comply with the legislation, he said.
If the district does not create its own teacher appraisal system, then it would default to the state appraisal system.
“We think we can encompass those (requirements) into an appraisal system,” Ward said. “We’re attempting to merge our unique qualities with those requirements that the state has.”
Its implementation must be first and foremost good for students, but it must also be fair for staff, Ward told the board. He added that the appraisal system will include all teaching staff and will look at having multiple measures to determine teacher effectiveness.
Administrators will conduct the appraisal process. If teachers are not meeting standards, they will be given sufficient support opportunities and time to improve, Ward said.
The appraisal will focus more on the group (such as ninth grade English teachers) and less on the individual.
“We want to build in that interdependence and reliance because that’s where it really works best,” Ward said.
Within the school district’s version of Q Comp, called Mounds View Teacher Professional Pay System, teachers are in teams, or professional learning communities, said Supt. Dan Hoverman. Each team sets achievement goals for students and identifies what kind of professional development is going to be required that is most beneficial to them as they do their work.
He said the district is moving away from the approach of having the principal observe a teacher once a year in their classroom. Currently, a group of four teachers records videos of one another while a lesson is being presented, and colleagues observe the video and provide feedback. The teacher discusses what they were trying to do in the lesson.
“We’re looking at trying to introduce other ways in which feedback can be provided in a very timely fashion, in a very constructive way to provide growth and development, Hoverman said.
“We have a lot invested in our staff, and we want them to be able to have a process that will allow them to do their work in the best possible way they can.”
He said that one of the reasons to look at redesigning the teacher appraisal system is because there are redundancies between what’s in place for the Q Comp program and what’s in place for a more traditional evaluation.
“We want to bring them together and reduce layers and try and make it more clear, a more efficient process that’s tied directly to what staff is doing day to day,” Hoverman said.
More recent research says that one of the problems with teacher appraisal is that it sits in a binder on a shelf and is opened up when it needs to be used, he said, which doesn’t make any sense.
Hoverman told the board he wants the appraisal process to be clear, concise and functional, with an emphasis will be on teachers working in their teams.
If the appraisal system provides teachers with professional development opportunities and they work as a team, the only way teachers would probably “get in trouble” is if they don’t engage in that development, Ward said. At that point, a conversation would take place regarding whether being a teacher is the right profession for that individual.
Hoverman said he and Stacy Vanderport, Mounds View Education Association president, are very confident the appraisal system will support staff and have a positive impact on students in the classroom.
The task force had its first meeting recently and will meet again in January. Community member focus groups will be formed, so there will be opportunities for community input.
Ward said the tentative schedule is to report to the School Board in February, May and August. Supt. Hoverman will receive monthly updates.
The goal is for the teacher appraisal system to be piloted during the 2013-14 school year so it could be implemented districtwide for the 2014-15 school year.
“It’s a big project, but it’s really an important one,” Ward said. “I think everybody on the task force recognizes that and is excited, with a little trepidation.”