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BOE Nominates Waterford For New Teacher-Evaluation System

Board Hopes To Be Part Of A New State Program That Provides More Support To Teachers While Making It Easier To Remove Ineffective Ones

Thursday night, the Board of Education nominated the Waterford School District to be part of a 10-district pilot program by the state that focuses on the way teachers are evaluated.

The new evaluation system would provide more professional development to teachers, all paid for by the state, according to Assistant Superintendent Craig Powers. It also makes it easier for the district to remove teachers proven to be ineffective, according to various published reports.

While Waterford is nominating itself, there is no guarantee it will be picked, Superintendent Jerome Belair said. But it is better to be part of the two-year pilot program and be able to influence the way the evaluation process is done, rather than have it forced on the district in two years without any input, he said.

“Quite frankly I’d rather participate in this from the beginning than have it forced on us later,” Belair said.

Belair said he would have to talk to the teachers union before asking to be part of the program. However, Waterford teachers are part of the American Federation of Teachers, a union that strongly supported the state’s new law with its Connecticut leader, Waterford’s own Sharon Palmer, clapping in the front row when Gov. Dannel Malloy signed it into law.

Background

Malloy said his focus would be overhauling Connecticut’s education system, especially looking at the way teachers are evaluated. The goal was to provide more professional development to teachers to increase performance and also to terminate teachers proven to be ineffective.

Connecticut's teacher unions and several key legislators, including Waterford State Sen. Andrea Stillman, balked at the idea. After several weeks of behind-closed-doors negotiations, the state came up with a new plan that would pilot a new way to evaluate teachers in eight to 10 districts for two years, and then scale it to the rest of the state.

The new evaluation system gives more professional development to teachers, according to various published reports. It also allows school districts to terminate teachers proven to be “ineffective” instead of “incompetent,” an easier-to-prove standard.

Several published reports compared it to the system New Haven set up, which was backed by the AFT and praised In the first year the evaluation system was set up, 34 teachers left the district after poor evaluations, according to the New Haven Independent.

The Waterford Board of Education agreed to nominate itself to be one of the 10 districts to pilot this program. Again, Belair said he still needs to talk to the Waterford teachers union and then there is still no guarantee Waterford will be picked.

The largest benefit will be more state dollars for professional development for teachers, Powers said. The other benefit would be the ability to help shape this program that is going to be mandated in two years anyway, Belair said.

“(Waterford hasn’t) updated the way we evaluate teachers since 1998,” Powers said. “So we are ripe for an overhaul anyway.”

The Board of Education did not take a formal vote, but agreed through consensus it would like to nominate the district. No board member spoke against nominating the district.

Waterford Rez May 25, 2012 at 05:17 PM
It is about time. The average business re-examines their evaluation system every 4 to 5 years. 14 years is ridiculously too long. Yes, the majority of teachers are great teachers and dedicated to their profession. However, there are a few teachers and administrators who are ineffective, lazy, past their prime and just flat-out should not be receiving tax payer dollars in the form of a paycheck. The funny thing is everyone knows who these teachers are. It is the proverbial elephant in the room. Ask the students (past and present), asked the parents and even asked the teachers. Everybody knows which teachers and administrators need to go. Unfortunately, the senior administrators gazes into space as if their mere words supersede reality. "Every teacher here is very dedicated and a potential teacher of the year". Ya, right. The unwillingness or inability to deal with these teachers (and administrators too!!!!) merely frustrates the students and parents. It also is a great injustice to the students. After all, isn't it all about the students? The school system is here for the town, not the other way around. The final coup de grace is the fact that many of these teachers are filling positions that younger, more energetic, more up-to-date and much more effective teachers could fill. For every horrendous teacher out there currently employed, there are probably a dozen phenomenal young teachers looking for a job. How in the world did we get in this position??????
Waterford Rez May 25, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Finally, why it isn't every public education employee drug tested? You can't even work at Walmart without being drug tested, why can't the town demand drug test for teachers and staff? Everybody knows that a small percentage of teachers use drugs. There is no logical reason not to test teachers. I am sure the unions have something to do with it. How pathetic, we teach our students not to do certain things like drink and drive and use drugs but when it comes to those we trust to teach our kids and model proper behavior, we give them a pass. But once again, those ultimately responsible bury their heads in the sand or sweep things under the rug. The nepotism (family of educators) is rampant and completely out of control in the public education system. The funny thing is, they think they're fooling everybody when in reality, in a small town like Waterford, pretty much everyone knows everything. In the words of Styx "you're fooling yourself if you don't believe it". .......and in the words the Metallica "Sad but true".
Nathaniel Ross May 31, 2012 at 09:30 PM
@Waterford Rez I really don't see why drug testing should be made a priority. I understand testing students before their engagement in various activities, but why teachers? If a prospective teacher abuses drugs, I find it unlikely that they'd be successful enough to be seriously considered for a job anyway. If any teachers do drugs, they don't do it enough to interfere with their life. And if their casual drug use poses no threat to themselves or anyone else, what's the fuss? Furthermore, how many Waterford teachers make their personal lives known to their students? Certainly none of them tell any students about their drug use. Teachers should be allowed to do what they want behind closed doors. I see no point wasting time and money on this trivial issue.

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