Evaluation of teachers to become mandatory

Saturday, November 26, 2011

EUREKA SPRING -- Requirements for teacher evaluation will become mandatory throughout the state by 2014, and are much more stringent, Eureka Springs School Board members heard at their monthly meeting Nov. 17.

Four teachers have been selected as mentors to oversee the four "domains" of teaching responsibility, based on Charlotte Danielson's book, A Framework for Teaching.

Donna Kesner oversees Domain 1, planning and preparation; Chrys McClung, Domain 2, the classroom environment; Carrie Freeman, Domain 3, instruction; and Jerry RunnerSmith, Domain 4, professional responsibilities.

Under each of these headings are several components by which teachers will be evaluated.

"This should not become an 'us versus them' thing," RunnerSmith said. "It should be inclusive and collaborative."

Currently teachers are evaluated by classroom visits twice a year. If a teacher is having a bad day, pointed out high school principal Kathy Lavender, it's not a fair way to assess them.

Board president Charles Templeton asked whether the evaluation system could be used for non-renewal of a teacher's contract.

The four mentors explained that is usually the last step. A teacher lacking in any of the domain areas can work with the mentor of that area to make improvements.

The teachers have seen the new system, RunnerSmith said.

"Among teachers there is a little concern," said middle school principal Cindy Holt. "It's new, different and very extensive."

"This will give us a more accurate picture of what's going on, not just that one day," said Lavender.

"This system relies on 'artifacts,'" Holt added, "documents that show your skill in what you do."

McClung said teachers won't be evaluated every year. Master teachers would be evaluated every two or three years.

In other business, the board:

* Approved purchase of wireless equipment from Extreme Network, which gives multiple access points, requires no contract or license needed and costs less than the current provider, at less than $20,000.

* Approved payment of invoices for the new high school: $9,950.39 to Morrison Architecture and $489,284.10 to Kinco Constructors on a vote of 6-1, Kirk voting nay on the Kinco invoice for stored materials the district had already paid for and not taken delivery on, he said.

* Approved creating a focus group on selling the old high school, made up of board member Tom Freehling and members of the community invited to participate, as well as others who express interest.

* Approved a student transfer out of the district to Bentonville because of an impending family move.

* Approved establishing a board finance study group, which would welcome the public.

* Approved a motion to pay Lisa Plagge for a seventh period. She is teaching Algebra I, as teacher David Scott has not yet completed licensing requirements to teach that class. After he takes the test in January, the district will determine whether to reassign the class to him.

* Approved accepting the resignation of ESL and art teacher Kathy Attwood.

* Tabled a vote on the Gifted and Talented Exit Policy until suggested revisions are made.

* Heard Linnea Koester from the Eureka Springs Teachers Organization request on its behalf that when positions such as the Alternative Learning Environment position, are restored, teachers be allowed input or to serve on a committee overseeing it. She also said ESTO would like to remind the district about following the chain of command when a parent has a complaint. "Sometimes the teacher is circumnavigated, and we don't know about it," she said.

* Heard teachers and administrators are interested in exploring the "lost boys" syndrome of boys not being called on in class as often as girls. RunnerSmith referenced a report in The Chronicle of Higher Education by Robert B. Smith.

* Heard Templeton report on a trip to Harrison Nov. 14 to attend the state's Joint Committee on Education on issues that will be discussed in the legislature in 2013. He said Superintendent Wayne Carr and local parent Jack Moyer made convincing presentations to the committee on the inequity of school funding throughout the state and its impact on Eureka Springs.

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