Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough prepares for big shift on teacher evaluations

TAMPA — Be prepared for some hard conversations.

That was the advice Tuesday from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation officials, as the Hillsborough County School District finishes its first year of rating teachers under a tough new evaluation system.

Teachers might call to complain about big drops in their final scores, program officer Ky Vu told School Board members. Some might be fearing for their jobs.

"And they start saying, 'Okay, I don't agree with this, I don't think that the district is justified in either letting me go or putting me on a performance development plan,' " he said at an update meeting. "It's imperative for the district and you to think about how to manage that well."

It's a big change for a district that has typically rated 99.5 percent of all teachers satisfactory, and one-third as perfect. Hillsborough is using its $100 million Gates grant to change those numbers over seven years, tying teacher pay directly to student performance in the classroom and on standardized tests.

Superintendent MaryEllen Elia said tough meetings have been going on all year as principals and peer evaluators help teachers rise to the challenge.

"Right now people are talking to (some) teachers and saying, 'This is what we are seeing, and I don't know if this is the right career for you,' " she said. " 'Are you going to do the things that need to be done so that we can help support a growth in your professional life?' "

Board members say they've already gotten some calls.

"At first, there was anxiety," said April Griffin, describing one conversation with a teacher. "In working with her evaluator and principal, it worked itself out."

Board member Candy Olson voiced worries about the long hours principals are spending observing teachers. Some have less time for the things that make schools run smoothly, such as connecting with kids in the cafeteria or chatting with parents before school, she said.

"I hope we're not burning people out," added board member Jack Lamb.

Elia said some of those stresses come with learning a new system. It will be worth it if teachers can be helped to improve, rather than being shoved out the door.

"They all want to get better, and we're helping them to do that," Elia said.

Vu said Hillsborough's success at working through problems with its teachers' union has set it apart from other reform efforts. And the Gates Foundation has high hopes to replicate its model across the nation.

But he said states or districts are making a mistake if they think it's possible to legislate such changes without focusing on how to make it stick.

"That takes a lot of training," Vu said. "I don't think you can just assume it's going to happen."

Tom Marshall can be reached at or (813) 226-3400.

Hillsborough prepares for big shift on teacher evaluations 04/19/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 19, 2011 9:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump sprinkles political attacks into Scout Jamboree speech

    GLEN JEAN, W.Va. — Ahead of President Donald Trump's appearance Monday at the National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, the troops were offered some advice on the gathering's official blog: Fully hydrate. Be "courteous" and "kind." And avoid the kind of divisive chants heard during the 2016 campaign such as "build …

    President Donald Trump addresses the Boy Scouts of America's 2017 National Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, W.Va., July 24, 2017. [New York Times]
  2. Trump, seething about attorney general, speculates about firing Sessions, sources say

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has spoken with advisers about firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as he continues to rage against Sessions' decision to recuse himself from all matters related to the Russia investigation.

  3. John McCain to return to Senate for health care vote

    WASHINGTON — The Senate plans to vote Tuesday to try to advance a sweeping rewrite of the nation's health-care laws with the last-minute arrival of Sen. John McCain — but tough talk from President Donald Trump won no new public support from skeptical GOP senators for the flagging effort that all but …

  4. Last orca calf born in captivity at a SeaWorld park dies


    ORLANDO — The last killer whale born in captivity under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program died Monday at the company's San Antonio, Texas, park, SeaWorld said.

    Thet orca Takara helps guide her newborn, Kyara, to the water's surface at SeaWorld San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas, in April. Kyara was the final killer whale born under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program. The Orlando-based company says 3-month-old Kyara died Monday. [Chris Gotshall/SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via AP]
  5. Blake Snell steps up, but Rays lose to Orioles anyway (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell stepped up when he had to Monday and delivered an impressive career-high seven-plus innings for the Rays. That it wasn't enough in what ended up a 5-0 loss to the Orioles that was their season-high fifth straight is symptomatic of the mess they are in right now.

    Tim Beckham stands hands on hips after being doubled off first.