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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Hillsborough school board will discuss changes to evaluation system



As it nears the midway point of Empowering Effective Teachers, the Hillsborough County school district continues to fine-tune the evaluation process.

The changes, welcomed by some teachers and traumatic to others, are Hillsborough's version of education reform. The rest of the state is under Senate Bill 736, which similarly aims to reward teachers for results instead of seniority.

At Tuesday's school board meeting, Hillsborough officials will talk about changes they have made in response to feedback from their 15,000 teachers.

These adjustments include the following:

  • Online teachers in the IMPACT program have been removed from the new evaluation system, along with adult education teachers, to give officials time to determine the best possible rating systems for them.
  • More tests are being used for the value-added portion of the teacher score, which makes up 40 percent (it's 50 percent in other districts).
  • Instead of giving the principal 30 points and the peer another 30 toward the final score, principals will be given about 35 and peers 25, subject to ratification of the union contract.
  • Second-year teachers, and not just first-year teachers, now get mentors.
  • More peer evaluators are being hired to decrease caseloads and allow for more interaction with teachers. This includes meet-and-greet sessions at the beginning of the school year.

New this year, in addition, are visits to each school from an evaluator who is not assigned to that school. The goal is to help teachers feel comfortable asking questions about how the system works without fearing they will make an unfavorable first impression.

"It's a totally neutral person who does not know you from Adam," said Jean Clements, president of the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association.

Clements said the changes illustrate the district's flexibility and administrators' desire to design the best possible system.

"There's been a lot of reflection, even after decisions are made," she said. "Once it's started, if it doesn't seem right, the district is more than willing to make a quick reversal."


[Last modified: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 10:41am]


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