Pasco County school teachers soon could find it easier to get a top performance evaluation.
The district administration on Tuesday offered to redefine the components of the "highly effective" rating, so that more teachers could qualify. In 2011-12, just 3.6 percent of teachers scored at that level, prompting some award-winning educators to complain it was near impossible to achieve the status or the "innovative" label for their classroom strategies.
Just under 95 percent of district teachers were rated as "effective." Data for 2012-13, which just ended, is not available.
In the future, the evaluation results will tie directly to teacher pay increases. That's why teachers have paid such close attention to the details of how districts implement the law that the Legislature put into effect last year, tying student test scores and classroom observations to evaluations.
District negotiator Kathy Scalise said the administration has spent much of the summer discussing how the evaluations can best identify top flight teachers in the fairest way possible.
"We are making sure we have a fair and equitable way for them to demonstrate their skill," Scalise said, explaining the administration wants evaluations to focus on teacher improvement and growth.
Land O'Lakes High teacher Pat Connolly, a member of the teachers' negotiating team, pointedly asked whether teachers could get a top rating by demonstrating that students "get it" rather than having to put on a show of the strategies within the evaluation tool.
"That is the focus," Scalise said. "Innovating is about desired results."
Lead teacher negotiator Jim Ciadella said he expected to present a counterproposal at a future session.