Starting next year, Bedford schools will see changes in how teachers are evaluated. These revisions are required due to the new national Common Core Standards and to “Race to the Top,” a federal grant program that has awarded $250 million to Massachusetts over four years for educational innovation.
The new regulations, according to the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) website, require school committees to “establish evaluation systems and performance standards” for of all educators in order to promote teacher growth and development and to place student learning at the center of education. The evaluations are also intended to recognize excellence in teachers and educational leaders, to set a high bar for professional status and to shorten timelines for improvement. All teachers, principals, and administrators must attain a rating of proficient, at least.
In all, there are four rating levels in the new evaluation model: exemplary, proficient, needs improvement, and unsatisfactory. Outgoing Superintendent Maureen LaCroix, at last Tuesday’s School Committee meeting, cautioned members to expect a certain amount of discomfort as the new regulations are implemented. “Very few people will reach the exemplary level as this starts,” she warned. “It’s very difficult to achieve the highest standard and we are used to being exemplary here in Bedford.”
“This is a big change in how we do evaluations, “she added. “ You’ll need to give people time to grow into this.”
Because Bedford is one of the“Race to the Top”incubator communities that has agreed to pilot initiatives before they are adopted statewide, our schools must start implementing the new evaluation system this fall.
The model must be authorized by three different groups: the teachers’ union,the DESE, andthe School Committee. For the faculty component, a Labor Management team comprised of district teachers has been formed to work with LaCroix to tailor the contract specifically to Bedford, using many familiar and acknowledged “best practice” standards, thus minimizing what might otherwise seem like change on a more radical scale.On the DESE front, LaCroix said that she had adopted most of the language of the model contract provided by the state so Bedford’s new model is unlikely to meet with objections at that level. After the state and the union agree to its provisions, the contract will come before the School Committee to be signed.
“The district’s Labor Management Team will stay in place for at least the next couple of years,” La Croix stated. “They will continually review our process to see what’s working or what we need to reconsider. We have to keep talking about it and really just keep improving our own practice.”
For full details about the new Massachusetts Educator Evaluation Regulations, visit: www.doe.mass.edu/edeval
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