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District 1 approves improved teacher evaluation system

Coal City School District 1 formally approved a new teacher evaluation system in a 7-0 vote during Wednesday’s board of education meeting.

Coal City teachers and administrators began using the new system a month ago after it was approved by the union.

“The feedback has been really positive so far,” said Kent Bugg, superintendent of District 1. “The people involved say the conversations between teachers and the administration are much more in-depth than they have been in the past.”

The new system comes after the state issued a law requiring new evaluation models.

In 2010, Gov. Pat Quinn signed the Performance Evaluation Reform Act, which requires all schools in Illinois to change how teachers’ and principals’ performance is measured. The Illinois State Board of Education finalized the rules of the new evaluation system in 2012.

“We were actually ahead of the game because we have discussed changing our evaluation system for the past four years,” Bugg said before Wednesday’s meeting.

Bugg said the law requires schools to make two significant changes: To have an evaluation instrument that is scientifically and research based, and to include four categories in the evaluation instrument. Those categories are: excellent, proficient, needs improvement and unsatisfactory.

The district’s old system only had three categories and was based on a one-page checklist of criteria, Bugg said.

“It was kind of, what we called, a ‘one and done’ evaluation process because the administrator would go into the classroom one time, and that was it,” Bugg said.

The new evaluation plan is about 80 pages long and is specific in listing the expectations of teachers.

According to the Illinois State Board of Education, the new evaluation model was adapted from the Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Professional Practice, which is already used and respected by districts across the country.

Danielson is an internationally-known expert in the area of teacher effectiveness. Her system emphasizes research-based practices and incorporates evidence – like lesson plans and student work – to support the various ratings.

By 2016, 30 percent of the new teacher evaluations will be based on student growth, measured through benchmark tests, Bugg said. The ISBE is still determining the specifics of the tests.

“We hope that it creates a more collaborative atmosphere,” Bugg said. “The goal of any evaluation is improvement, and all of us can improve.”

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