Cincinnati teacher evaluation system shows promise

After
two years of development, Cincinnati
Public Schools

recently revealed its new teacher
evaluation system
, which ties teacher pay to student performance. The new system,
reportedly the first of its kind in the Buckeye State, will evaluate teachers
on measures of student growth as well as things like integrating technology in
the classroom and classroom management. CPS’s evaluation system comes ahead of
many state and federal efforts to improve how teachers’ job performance is
judged. The state’s biennial budget, Senate Bill 5 (Ohio’s collective
bargaining reform law), and the federal Race to the Top program will require
districts to implement teacher evaluations that link teacher pay to student
achievement in some fashion.

Cincinnati’s
new evaluation system incorporates three separate components at various
intervals in a teacher’s career: annual evaluations, performance evaluations,
and comprehensive evaluations.

 Annual
Evaluations

At
the beginning of the school year teachers participate in a conference with
their principal to discuss priorities for the coming school year. As a product
of the conference two goals are identified from a predetermined list, and
teachers must focus on their goals during the year. At least one of the goals
must be related to improving student achievement data. At the end of the school
year, the goals are scored as either having been exceeded, met, or not met. The
annual evaluations also include a checklist of professional responsibilities,
such as timely grading, evidence of lesson planning, and indicators of
professionalism like arriving to work on time. The checklist is completed by
the principal at the conclusion of the school year. One unannounced classroom
observation makes up the last piece of the annual evaluation system.

 Comprehensive
Evaluations

Comprehensive
evaluations are required every five years and prior to granting a continuing
contract. The evaluations are more in depth and require that student growth,
achievement, and performance be a significant factor in the process. A
successful evaluation will be linked to teacher advancement and increased pay.
The final details of this evaluation are still a work in progress.

 Performance
Evaluations

The
performance evaluation is a more rigorous evaluation component that is linked
to teacher’s salary starting after 10 years of employment with the district. At
the beginning of the school year, teachers write a reflective paper discussing
their professional strengths and weaknesses, and priorities for the upcoming
year. The paper is revisited at the end of the year by the principal to
determine what development the teacher made during the course of the year. Like
the annual evaluations, observations and goals play a role in the performance
evaluation. However, for the performance evaluations, three goals must be
identified and teachers get two classroom observations. Performance
observations are optional; a positive review can result in as much as an $800
bonus.

 The
three components of the evaluation system – annual, performance, and
comprehensive – will take effect this coming school year as a pilot program. After
the pilot year, the district will hold focus groups to determine how the system
is working and what changes need to be made. In the meantime CPS will conduct
briefing sessions with parents, teachers, the general public, and members of
the business community to discuss the new evaluation system and receive
feedback.

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