For the last few months I've been on my son's school's Site Based Decision Making Committee, as one of the Dad's Club reps, and last week was our first discussion about something that's been a topic of conversation at 3700 Ross for a good long while: the district's in-the-works teacher evaluation system. We were told last year this would be no easy feat, that it would take years to get right before final implementation. But at our SBDM meeting last week we were told testing of the new system would begin almost immediately on 15 campuses following months' worth of discussions with teachers, principals, parents and PTA boards. We're among the fortunate 15.
So, then, how will this work? That's the subject of a DISD board briefing up for discussion Thursday, which you'll find below. But long story short: The district's looking at using multiple sources to collect data about a teacher's performance, everything from having outsiders ("content experts") and insiders (principals, fellow teachers) observe and report on what's happening inside a classroom to letting students give their feedback to having teachers put together portfolios for review to using video cameras to offer teachers a little "self-reflection."
So happens the last to-do is already taking place in 22 middle schools, as DISD is one of six districts nationwide presently taking part in the Gates Foundation's Measures of Effective Teaching project the board will also discuss extending Thursday.
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The briefing also provides a look at some "best practices" 'round the country used to grade the graders, and it offers teachers, parents and principals' thoughts on this possible new way of evaluating teachers. "I'm having a hard time understanding how we can front the money to research and develop this project when we are in a crunch with the budget," says one teacher. "I realize the need to evaluate teachers and make sure we have great people teaching our kiddos, but when schools are cutting back and going without in major areas, I don't understand how this is a priority toward which the district should funnel money."