LITHIA — Newsome High School teacher Joseph Thomas was taken off suspension Tuesday in a compromise that ends the first public act of resistance against the Hillsborough County School District's Empowering Effective Teachers project.
"I'm back at school tomorrow," said Thomas, who teaches social studies.
The 18-year veteran had refused to meet with a peer evaluator whose background was mostly in elementary school. On Tuesday, he agreed to be observed by both that evaluator and one with experience teaching eighth grade.
Empowering Effective Teachers, funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has helped Hillsborough attain national prominence in the education reform movement.
Teachers are evaluated by several sources — peers, principals and a data component that includes test scores. Previously, the principal or assistant principal performed the evaluation.
Eventually, the new ratings system will be used to determine pay and career paths. In addition, peer mentors are assigned to help teachers improve.
A new state law requires all other districts to develop performance pay systems, as well.
Marlene Sokol can be reached at (813) 226-3356 or firstname.lastname@example.org.