District outlines teacher evaluation model

SOUTH ORANGE / MAPLEWOOD, NJ — South Orange-Maplewood School District Assistant Superintendent Gayle Carrick presented the updated model for teacher evaluations at the Nov. 18 South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education meeting, explaining how the Danielson Framework for teaching, a teacher evaluation rubric, fits into the district’s teacher-observation plan. Carrick also told BOE members about the state requirements for teacher evaluations.

Nontenured teachers are required to be observed three times per year while tenured teachers are required to be observed twice per year, and there are four evaluation scores: highly effective, effective, partly effective and ineffective. Teachers, when evaluated, are being judged on planning and preparation, classroom environment, instruction, and professional responsibilities. Teachers are observed by the school principal and a subject supervisor.

“When you’re going through these different domains and the different components, some teachers are going to be stronger in some and weaker in others,” Carrick said at the meeting, adding that all teachers have a conference with their observers afterward. “Mandated post-observation conferences provide evidence-based feedback, and the emphasis is on evidence, evidence, evidence versus opinion. Opinions can be very subjective and not so accurate.”

In the presentation, Carrick discussed Professional Development Plans, which teachers and their supervisors develop at the end of each year from the evaluation feedback. Included in a PDP are guidelines, timelines, expectations, administrative support and professional learning opportunities.

“They look at areas within the observation structure to say, ‘This is where I could use some growth,’” she said. “The PDPs are targeted to both the students’ needs and the teacher’s needs. If the student data results are not showing that students are succeeding, then that is something to look at, as well as see if the teacher needs help in a particular content area or instructional strategies to see that his or her students are more effective.”

At the end of the presentation Carrick explained the results of low-scoring evaluations. By May 15 of each school year, nontenured teachers will be offered a contract for the next year by the superintendent. After three straight years of ineffectiveness, the district is required to file charges of inefficiency; however, the superintendent is allowed to file charges of inefficiency after two straight years of ineffectiveness.

“Our administrators are working with the Danielson Group, engaging in calibration walks,” Carrick said. “They go to volunteer teacher’s classes and look at the evidence. That calibration is important because it’s important that all of our supervisors and administrators are scoring at the same level, otherwise we’re giving mixed messages to our teachers.”

BOE member Elizabeth Baker said at the meeting that student data should be presented to the board members along with evaluation results.

“I think the board and the community would like to have a sense of what the general oversight is about — the day-to-day, week-in week-out delivery of curriculum and instruction,” Baker said, adding that districtwide oversight also factors into teacher evaluations. “We can use the assessments to inform improvements, and especially how we’re rolling out the realignment of our STEM curriculum, which was supposed to have an impact on student achievement as well as the disparities between our students.”