Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Education

Teachers, district reach agreement on changes in evaluation process

As anticipated, representatives of the United School Employees of Pasco and the Pasco County School District have signed an agreement refining the teacher evaluation process to focus more on professional development, less on penalties.

Most notably, the deal eliminates the two structured classroom observations that had made up 65 percent of past evaluations, replacing them with a series of less formal classroom visits over time. Val Smith, the USEP lead negotiator, said the move would lead to a "more natural cycle of feedback" from administrators to teachers, with a goal of growth in their skills.

"We believe it's going to give teachers more opportunity to demonstrate their effectiveness," Smith added.

District employee relations director Kathy Scalise said the administration agreed with the USEP on that point. Everyone involved wanted to create a system less subject to the whims of the Legislature, she said, while also less focused on the negative aspects of what happens when a teacher doesn't hit all the marks.

The change should allow teachers with a consistent, steady and strong performance to potentially end their observations early in the year, Smith said. That would allow those teachers to spend more time on a chosen area where they would like to improve, called a "deliberate practice," she said.

At the same time, Scalise said, principals would also have more time to work with teachers who are newer to the profession, as well as coaching the veterans. She said administrators have long asked for time to do that work.

The sides also agreed to leave unchanged the student performance data piece of the evaluations, which counts as 35 percent of the overall result.

Although the one-year deal will not formally take effect until the School Board and the USEP membership approve it, the sides agreed to begin implementing it now "in anticipation of ratification," Scalise said. As a result, classroom observations will change immediately.

SCHOOL GRADES: Many of the schools across Florida that received "incomplete" letter grades for 2017 from the state have received updated ratings after a more thorough review of their testing results.

In Pasco County, seven saw no changes from their 2016 marks, while two improved and one did not have enough information to shed its "I." Each of those had to deal with data that originally showed they did not test a sufficient number of students.

Among those, Pasco eSchool and Pasco Virtual Instruction raised their grades to A's. Pasco, Gulf and Fivay high schools retained their C grades, and Ridgewood High and Florida Virtual Academy charter maintained their D grades.

The Irvin Education Center and Achieve Center, for students with behavior disabilities, received a "maintain" rating, while Schwettman Education Center was left with its "I."

One Pasco County school got an "incomplete" for a different reason — questions about "statistically improbable" outcomes on some of its student tests. An investigation into Trinity Oaks Elementary's fourth-grade math results remains under way. The state has not rendered any opinion on that school's grade yet.

REZONING: Pasco Circuit Judge Kimberly Sharpe Byrd is calling for quick final action in a west Pasco parent challenge of the school district's new middle and high school attendance zones.

Byrd refused to grant a temporary injunction against the maps, which the parents contended should be voided because of alleged private discussions by rezoning advisory committee members.

Her written order became available Aug. 25. In it, Byrd reiterated that, while Florida's Sunshine Law "serves an important public interest," the issuance of an injunction less than two weeks before students returned to classes did not serve the public interest.

The disruption, Byrd wrote, would be too great.

"Although the temporary injunction was denied for the 2017-18 school year, this Court recognizes that planning for the 2018-19 school year will begin in the near future," she continued. "As such, this Court is expediting this case to final resolution."

The judge ordered the sides to mediate the case within 20 days. If they cannot resolve their issues, she scheduled a case management conference for Sept. 12 to set a date for a final hearing on the matter.

The School Board has set aside time for a closed-door discussion of the case for Sept. 5.

Contact Jeffrey S. Solochek at (813) 909-4614 or [email protected] Follow @jeffsolochek.

Comments
Hernando County teachers union endorses candidates for School Board

Hernando County teachers union endorses candidates for School Board

The Hernando Classroom Teachers Association, the union for the county’s instructional staff, has announced its recommendations for School Board candidates ahead of next month’s election.The group made its decisions via a private forum, where about fi...
Published: 07/18/18
Fired Hernando school superintendent Lori Romano finds a job in the county next door — Pasco

Fired Hernando school superintendent Lori Romano finds a job in the county next door — Pasco

Lori Romano, fired from the Hernando County superintendent post for "ineffective leadership" a month ago, has snagged a job in the neighboring Pasco County school district.She won’t be nearly as high up the administrative ladder in her new role.Subje...
Published: 07/17/18
Artist, advocate, Marine: New Pasco school security director compelled to serve

Artist, advocate, Marine: New Pasco school security director compelled to serve

LAND O’ LAKES — Chris Stowe has a storied past as an explosives technician in the U.S. Marine Corps.The retired master gunnery sergeant has mementos of his service — a field knife mounted to the lid of an explosives box, for instance — hanging promin...
Published: 07/17/18
Members new and old appointed to Pasco-Hernando State College boards

Members new and old appointed to Pasco-Hernando State College boards

Three trustees for Pasco-Hernando State College have been reappointed to their posts by Gov. Rick Scott, and a new member joined the college’s Foundation Board of Directors.The reappointments to the Board of Trustees are Alvaro Hernandez, Lee Maggard...
Published: 07/17/18
Hillsborough training school resource officers during active shooter exercise

Hillsborough training school resource officers during active shooter exercise

DOVER — With the start of classes nearly three weeks away, Hillsborough County school resource officers are receiving extensive active shooter training Tuesday morning to prepare them in the event of another school tragedy.Members of the Hillsborough...
Published: 07/17/18
Teacher on a plane talked about her low-income students. Passengers overheard and gave her more than $500 in cash.

Teacher on a plane talked about her low-income students. Passengers overheard and gave her more than $500 in cash.

Chicago schoolteacher Kimberly Bermudez has always been the chatty type.So when she was on a Southwest Airlines flight to Florida to visit her parents last week, and her seatmate asked her what she did for a living, she told him about her first-grade...
Published: 07/17/18
In District 6, School Board candidates offer ideas on teacher pay, achievement gap and more

In District 6, School Board candidates offer ideas on teacher pay, achievement gap and more

In Pinellas County’s only School Board race without an incumbent, three longtime Pinellas residents — a retired City Council member and coach, a human resources manager and a special education teacher — will duke it out for the District 6 seat. All t...
Published: 07/17/18

New student address verification rules on tap for Pasco schools

Pasco County parents have demanded for more than two years that their school district make sure students are not lying about their addresses. They’ve done so in hopes it might alleviate the need to change attendance zones at crowded schools.They migh...
Published: 07/17/18
Hillsborough headed for a new mark: 25,000 charter school students

Hillsborough headed for a new mark: 25,000 charter school students

TAMPA — Three more charter schools will join the Hillsborough County system this year, pushing the number of students in these tax-funded, but privately operated institutions to well over 10 percent of the enrollment.District officials predict that 2...
Published: 07/13/18
District 3 candidates see challenges and potential for Pinellas schools

District 3 candidates see challenges and potential for Pinellas schools

A three-term incumbent, an educational specialist with a doctorate in school counseling and a teacher with 33 years of classroom experience are vying for the countywide District 3 seat on the Pinellas County School Board.All three have clear ideas on...
Published: 07/12/18