First year of education evaluations in area districts gives incomplete picture

School districts rated their teachers and administrators favorably in the first year of Massachusetts’ new evaluation system — but with only some schools required to submit ratings, it’s still a very incomplete picture of teacher and administrator performance across the state.

In Franklin County, only four school districts were required to evaluate at least half their educators, according to data released Thursday by the state. These districts either evaluated only a portion of their teachers and administrators or gave all educators (or all but one) the same rating.

The Gill-Montague Regional School District, for example, evaluated 50 of 123 teachers and administrators. The district gave “exemplary” ratings to three educators (all from Turners High School), scored 33 “proficient,” 11 “needs improvement” and three “unsatisfactory.”

In the Pioneer Valley Regional School District, two of 64 educators were found exemplary, 61 were proficient and one unsatisfactory. The district did not evaluate 58 educators.

At Franklin County Technical School, one of 38 educators were given exemplary ratings, 35 were proficient and two were scored with “needs improvement.” There were 27 educators who were not evaluated.

Greenfield schools reported that all 189 educators were evaluated — but the data did not list percentages for each rating. The state said that some data is not shown when “... all staff evaluated in the group received the same rating, or all educators were evaluated and a single educator had a rating different from all other educators in the group.”

These districts will have to submit ratings for all of their evaluators this coming year. Other districts in Franklin County were not required to report their scores last year and won’t have to until spring 2015.

School boards could elect to adopt the state’s evaluation rubric verbatim or create their own in negotiations with teacher unions.

Statewide results

Nearly 38,000 educators were evaluated last year across the state: 7.4 percent were rated as exemplary, 85.2 percent were proficient, 6.8 percent needed improvement and 0.7 percent were unsatisfactory.

Administrators and teachers participate in five-step evaluation process that includes self-assessment, plan development (with specific goals), implementation of that plan and two sets of evaluations. The ratings at the end of the evaluation will determine the next type of plan that they’ll use to improve as a teacher or administrator.

“As we continue to roll out this new system, people should not draw conclusions about relative school quality based on these results since professional judgment and local context will inevitably lead to some differences in how administrators apply the new ratings,” said Paul Toner, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, in a prepared statement.

“The goal of evaluation is to help identify educators’ strengths and weaknesses so we can improve teaching and learning in all schools,” he said.

Districtwide evaluation results can be viewed at: http://goo.gl/KnJ7E9.

To view individual schools, change the “Report Type” form and click the orange arrow button at the top-right of the page.

You can reach Chris Shores at: cshores@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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