As Missouri tries to break away from No Child Left Behind standards, it's coming up with new ways to evaluate teachers.
All Missouri School Districts will be using the new teacher evaluation system in two years, but Palmyra opted to be part of a pilot program this school year to get a head start.
While teachers still have a lot of questions, officials I spoke with say this new method will better measure how well teachers are improving student learning.
Improving teachers leads to improved learning for students...that's the basic goal behind Missouri's new teacher evaluation system.
"This gives us a little bit different of a focus. It's going to take into consideration a lot more factors in determining how well we are doing as a school district," said Palmyra High School Principle Kenneth Holstine.
He said when he first told teachers about the program, they were skeptical it would take away time from students.
"When I first introduced this to them they were a little bit concerned that there was going to be additional work. And when I met with them and I was explaining the professional plans to them I did see a lot of questioning looks," he said.
Those questioning looks were put to rest as they learned more about the seven essential principles in the new evaluation, which includes measuring growth in student learning and using evaluation results to make employment decisions. Superintendent Eric Churchwell says besides tweaking the standards, not much has changed.
"We've been evaluating teachers based on standards forever. What this does is change those standards a little bit. The process is similar, it's just the standards have changed a little bit," he said.
Holstine said this new evaluation is designed to look deeper into teaching performance, instead of just looking at test scores. He said this new method is the right direction for the school district.
"I think at this time it's a smart move from the standpoint that it does acknowledge that the No Child Left Behind legislation was unrealistic," Holstine said.
Paris R-2 and the Ralls County School District are also part of the pilot program, which based on feedback, will be refined before it's rolled out statewide.
By the way, the new evaluation system also tracks the professional development of principals and superintendents.
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