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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Teachers are warming up -- but slowly -- to Hillsborough evaluations



When it comes to the new teacher evaluations, is the glass half empty or half full?

We know the new system is largely unpopular around the state. Among other things, it has a value-added component that judges many teachers by the test scores of students they didn't even teach.

In Hillsborough, which benefitted from a $100-million Gates grant, officials boast a much better model called Empowering Effective Teachers.

Still, many teachers remain dissatisfied. One of the most outspoken critics, Wharton High School math teacher Michael Rush, highlighted this section of a district survey taken in December. He contends that despite the low approval numbers, the teacher's union is painting a rosy picture of the experiment. Union president Jean Clements disagreed, saying union leaders are very candid in stating that many teachers do not like and are struggling with EET.

We boldfaced the two items that interested Rush the most:

"In the December 2012 survey, the “awareness” items received the highest agree/strongly agree responses, as they have in previous Pulse Check surveys. Also, the agree/strongly agree responses continue to increase. The December 2012 survey showed:

• An 11.2% increase in respondents who said they understood the objectives of EET – from 74.2% to 85.4%.

• A 13.9% increase in respondents who said they receive enough information about the new evaluations – from 55.5% to 69.4%.

For many of the “buy in” items, the agree/strongly agree responses remain low, as they have been since teachers got their first new evaluation scores in the fall of 2011.

However, there is clear movement in the positive direction. The December 2012 survey showed:

• A 9.1% increase in respondents who said EET will be good for them and their school – from 22% to 31.1%.

• A 7% increase in respondents who said EET already has had a positive impact on HCPS – from 19.2% to 26.2%.

• A 4.9% increase in respondents who said the new process provides them with more valuable feedback about their teaching - 28.6% to 33.5%.

• A 3.4% increase in respondents who said the evaluation results directly affect their professional development choices – from 48.9% to 52.3%."

District spokesman Stephen Hegarty said the surveys are taken deliberately around milestones; in this case, the release of the second round of evaluation scores. "The numbers are headed in the right direction, but some of them remain low," he said.

He also said he's not sure how many school districts are polling their teachers to the extent Hillsborough is. "We have lots of different ways we try to get feedback from teachers," he said. "And we are very interested in making adjustments to the program and communicating more or differently based on results."

[Last modified: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 11:59am]


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