Aurora -- The Aurora Board of Education unanimously approved a new policy this summer for evaluation of teachers.
Superintendent Russ Bennett said the new policy will be implemented this fall, and added the Ohio Revised Code states that all school districts in the state must adopt it.
"Our administrators and teachers have worked in a very collegial fashion to establish the new teacher evaluation policy," School Board President Gerald Kohanski said of the policy that was approved in June. "That, in itself, is a positive, as it is my understanding that other school districts in the area have had significant difficulty in reaching a consensus agreement on this issue.
"I believe everyone recognizes the need for performance accountability in education," Kohanski said. "The key point is to ensure that any policy is administered fairly and equitably. I am certain our excellent teaching staff will have no difficulty performing under this new requirement."
Fifty percent will be based on evaluations and administrators' walk-throughs, and the other 50 percent will be based on student growth calculations that are based on tests.
Bennett said the Ohio Achievement Assessment tests in math and English in grades 3 to 8 were used to determine growth, and all teachers not in English and math had to create student learning objectives to determine growth.
"Our teachers embraced this process, and designed all the tests last year for implementation this school year," he said.
Bennett said in the old system "all our teachers were evaluated every year, and in the new system, they will be evaluated every year. In the old system, non-tenured teachers were observed officially in the classroom four times with two appraisals each year.
"TENURED teachers were observed officially once and appraised once. But our administrators conduct many walk-throughs, or classroom visits, every day."
"The old system was based on standards outlined by the state," he added. "In the new system, 50 percent of the entire evaluation still is based on the standards. We were one of the few districts that actually modeled the evaluation on standards that the Ohio Department of Education designed many years ago. Therefore, this is an easy transition for our teachers."
He said students' growth, or improvement, is mathematically calculated to determine if the child earned one year's worth of academic growth. He said some tests are taken from the state standard, "but for only grades 3 to 8; all others are teacher-designed tests based on curriculum."
"If you think of every grade and every course, especially high school courses, the work was a massive undertaking," he said. "I commend our teachers, and I know we are farther ahead than many districts in this process."
Bennett said each evaluation must include at least two 30-minute formal observations and periodic classroom walk-throughs by evaluators. He said principals and assistant principals will conduct the evaluations.
"Since we evaluate everyone every year, we still can handle the process," he said. "But the paperwork for both the teachers and administrators is incredibly time-consuming. It is expected that it will take about eight hours per staff member.
"Many districts are hiring more administrators to handle the new requirements," he added. "But we're not hiring anyone to complete this task."
Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4187
Twitter: Mike Lesko@MikeLesko_RPC