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South Kitsap School District begins new evaluation system

South Kitsap School District teachers and principals this year will receive an evaluation that looks more similar to the report cards they give to students.

Senate Bill 5895, which requires school districts to use a four-level evaluation system for teachers and principals, passed in the House, 82-16, in February.

SKSD director of instructional services Shannon Thompson said most school districts evaluated teachers and principals through a less comprehensive model in the past. She said SKSD was among 65 districts that participated in the pilot project established last year by the state. For that reason, Thompson said SKSD is ahead in the transition process.

The state offered three evaluation templates for school districts to choose from instead of having local administrators and teachers design the system. Thompson said SKSD will use the Marzano Teacher Evaluation Model.

"For us it really built upon the importance of high-quality instruction," she said. "It is research-based practicum."

The former model essentially was akin to the "pass" or "fail" mark that a teacher's assistant student would receive. Thompson said the new evaluation for teacher, which is conducted by the school's principal, will assess instructors in several areas as "unsatisfactory," "basic," "proficient," or "distinguished." Thompson said SKSD will use the model to evaluate 25 percent of teachers and principals this year, while adding an additional 25 percent every school year until it is fully implemented in 2015-16. Evaluation results will be a factor in human resource decisions beginning that year.

"The new evaluation focuses not only on what a teacher is doing, but what students are learning," she said. "Are you growing and are your students growing as well?"

South Kitsap Education Association president Judy Arbogast said the new system will be "a little more specific," but similar to the one SKSD has had in place.

"I think most people are looking at it with a positive eye," she said. "It's really just a new name for something has been going on."

Senate Bill 5896 also contained language about how evaluations would be considered in hiring and firing teachers, and requiring educators to reach a certain level of competence before they would earn a continuing contract. Arbogast said that is not a new development.

"Principals have always — and continue — to have the ability to fire teachers they feel are not doing their jobs," she said.

Improvement in test scores from one period to the next would comprise at least three of the eight criteria for teachers and principals.

Arbogast, who taught elementary-school students, including special education, beginning in 1982 in SKSD before taking her current position, believes that using test-score data to evaluate teachers is flawed because each inherits a different set of circumstances.

"You look at the socioeconomic level of the family and the mother's education," she said. "That is the No. 1 indicator. That has been shown on study after study throughout the years across the globe.

"I think what reforms want is to put a number value on every person. Everyone who is in a school daily knows it takes a village to educate students. It's impossible to put a number score on everyone."

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