Teachers must undergo three evaluations to achieve tenure,
Assistant Superintendent Terry Luxenberg stated during a
presentation to the board and the public.
The school district will require one long evaluation and two short evaluations. They will be graded in one of four categories, including: highly effective, effective, partially effective and ineffective. Being categorized into the last two categories may result in a teacher’s loss of tenure, Luxenberg said.
They will also be graded on student growth and their performance on PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College Careers) testing, which takes place twice a year.
Teachers will be graded on the median growth of their students, meaning that out of 20 students, a teacher will be evaluated on the growth percentage of the student that falls in the middle of the class. Teachers of special education classes with less than 20 students will be evaluated once they have taught 20 students, even if it’s over a period of more than one year.
The test measures the full range of Common Core Standards, which shift the focus in certain areas. In English Literacy, there’s more of a focus on nonfiction and a student’s ability to evaluate information in a text. In Math, the focus is on conceptual understanding.
“Students will be asked to explain a proof and apply it,” said Luxenberg, adding the curriculum under the Common Core Standards are much more complex.
PARCC testing begins next year, but the district is getting in line with the Common Core Standards this year. The ASK testing will focus on the standards this year, as well.
In the beginning of the year, teachers will be asked to evaluate the performance of their incoming students on the PARCC test in previous years, and set an improvement goal. They will decide what will be tested, and they will write the tests.
Teachers will then be partially judged on what percentage of their class realizes or exceeds improvement goals.
Goals will be submitted to their principals, to ensure they are not too easy. The principals are also being evaluated.
Goals can be revised in November. For the first year only, it can be revised once more, by Feb. 15.
Testing takes place during two sessions over the second part of the year, and all testing will be done on computers, which students must share.
“If 100 percent of a teacher’s class is meeting the goal, they’ll know the goal is too easy,” Luxenberg told concerned parents Tuesday night.
Other factors, such as how students perform on other forms of testing, will be indicative of the difficulty of the goals as well.
Parents were also concerned that with two PARCC testing sessions and final exams in the second half of the school year, children would be tested too much and thus “burn out.”
They also expressed concern their children were being used as pawns to evaluate teachers.
Luxenberg stressed that improvement among teachers can lead to improvement among students.
She said the Cinnaminson School District is ahead of the curve when it comes to preparing for the testing. Luxenberg noted that the possibility exists for finals to be used toward PARCC testing, while also acknowledging there are more questions right now than answers.
“The best thing for the children is to have the best teachers,” she said. “Even though the program is teacher-centered, the goal is for the kids to learn more."