USD 410 adopts teacher evaluation system

Staff writer

Callie Arnold smiled proudly as she held up her poster for the USD 410 board to see.

“I like to think it shows my artistic expression,” said the fifth-grade winner of the Kansas State Arbor Day Poster Contest. Arnold was one of more than 1,000 entries in the competition and won. She will go to the capital later this month for a visit with the governor and to plant a tree.

For Superintendant Steve Noble, Arnold is just one of the stellar students at Hillsboro elementary, middle and high schools – a product of a quality educational system backed by qualified instructors. But, he said, there are is always room for improvement. And so, with the support of the teachers and principals, the USD 410 school board moved to adopt the McREL Evaluation System.

The McREL teacher evaluation instrument is a web-based, rubric-driven evaluation system created collaboratively by teachers, principals and researchers. It reflects the latest research on effective instruction and aligns with the Model Core Teaching standards, which were adopted by the Council of Chief State School Officers. It has been use for three-plus years and has gained support from teachers and teachers associations nationwide, including the North Carolina School of Educators. The purpose of the system is to assess the teacher’s performance in relation to the Professional Teaching Standards and to guide the creation of a plan for professional growth.

Teacher performance will be evaluated on four different levels: developing, proficient, accomplished, and distinguished. Noble said he sees promise in this, saying that teachers will have to fulfill all developing requirements before moving onto proficient.

“There have been some cases in the past, where teachers have been developing in some areas and accomplished in others,” he said. “But this system says that in order for kids to learn these things have to be present. If they’re not there, the kids aren’t learning — and that’s not why we’re here.”

The system will determine performance levels based on formative measures, like walk-through, survey data, artifacts, and observations. The teacher evaluations will occur on a regular basic, so that professional development will occur and education will therefore improve. This means the evaluator will need to provide clear, timely and useful feedback to identify the specific needs of each individual — and provide learning opportunities when necessary.

“It’s not a punitive system,” Noble said. “It’s for professional development. Eventually, if steps aren’t followed then it could lead to termination but that’s not why it’s here. We just want to make sure we’re providing the best quality education possible.”

Noble said it has been at least 25 years since a new evaluation system has been established and is looking forward to implementing the updated system. Training on the web-based system is planned to include five counties, and will be held as soon as possible.

Refinancing

The USD 410 school board agreed to refinance their bonds, which will save $200,000.

Technology upgrade

USD 410 plans to purchase 35 iPads, along with a cart to put them on, for elementary schoolchildren. They are also planning on purchasing laptops for older students. The projected price is $131,119 and the council moved to allocate $131,000 for the project.

Vehicle Replacement Plan

The school board will look into purchasing a new suburban, used mini-van, and a used shop pickup.

Walking school bus

The Walking School bus had 17 children last week. Each child wore a neon green shirt and each volunteer wore a reflective orange vest. They start walking at 7:10 a.m. in front of Trinity Church and arrive at school by 7:35 a.m. Noble said they play games and sing along the way. Volunteers are still needed.

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