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Teacher evaluations on horizon for District 21

— North Wasco County School District 21 is well positioned to start implementing teacher and administrator evaluations in 2013, according to The Dalles Middle School principal Pat Consoliver.

He gave a presentation on Senate Bill 290 during the district’s Dec. 11 school board meeting. The legislation, passed in 2011 as part of Oregon’s new education standards and its federal waiver for No Child Left Behind, sets requirements for evaluating the performance of public school educators.

Consoliver said District 21 is ahead of the curve on this one, because two years ago Superintendent Candy Armstrong formed a committee that was tasked with creating a comprehensive evaluation system.

The committee chose the Charlotte Danielson framework as its preferred standards to evaluate teachers. That framework turned out to be one of the top systems recommended by the state in Senate Bill 290.

“I feel like we’re in a pretty good spot because I feel like we can just pick up where we left off,” Consoliver said. “We only stopped because the state started saying they were going to have a system.”

He said one of the components of the bill is that educators should have input into the evaluation system that is adopted, and the Charlotte Danielson framework was already agreed upon and approved by staff during the committee process, so “we are poised to move forward in a very rapid way.”

Teacher evaluations have been a source of controversy around the country, highlighting a struggle between politicians pushing to reform education and educators worried they will be unfairly penalized for low test scores caused by factors other than their teaching style. But Consoliver said that Senate Bill 290 states that test scores must be only one of multiple measures used to evaluate educators.

He said the state has been touting the bill’s “customizability” but it only extends so far.

“It’s somewhat true, but it is customized only to the extent that we can raise the bar higher than the state standard,” he said.

Consoliver said the Charlotte Danielson framework is the most common evaluation system coming out of colleges and universities today so many of the teachers in the district are already familiar with it. The framework provides a rubric that includes standards in four areas: planning and preparation, classroom environment, instruction and professional responsibilities.

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