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New teacher appraisal system pilot proposed for next school year

By Carolina Astrain
April 16, 2013 at 7:05 p.m.
Updated April 16, 2013 at 11:17 p.m.

Patti Welder Middle School may become one of 50 campuses across Texas to test a new teacher appraisal system called "Framework for Teaching."

At Thursday's Victoria school board meeting, trustees are expected to discuss and take action on the proposed pilot appraisal system for the 2013-14 school year.

The principals at Patti Welder will use the new system alongside the current appraisal system, the "Professional Development and Appraisal System, which has been in place since the mid-90s, said VISD spokeswoman Diane Boyett.

The new observation system was developed based on public comments, said Debbie Graves Ratcliffe, director of media relations for the Texas Education Agency.

"People were urging us to update our teacher evaluation system," Ratcliffe said. "We're looking for a new performance evaluation that will be able to reflect the higher standards we now have in our schools."

Half of the schools participating in the pilot program are underperforming, Title I grant recipients, said Ratcliffe.

Under the current evaluation system, teachers are graded on eight areas of their instruction.

But under the "Framework for Teaching" appraisal system, teachers will be graded on four areas, including planning and preparation, classroom environment, instruction and professional responsibilities.

"Our intent is for districts to utilize a robust, meaningful observation rubric," Ratcliffe wrote in an email. "Once the pilot ends, the selection of an evaluation model is a district decision."

During the second year of the pilot program, the TEA will require districts to get board approval before finalizing their decision.

"Districts participating in the pilot incur no costs," Ratcliffe wrote. "With respect to any costs proceeding after the pilot, we are still in the development stages and those decisions have not been finalized."

Patti Welder Middle School sixth-grade social studies teacher Diana Beran said she believes the current system under PDSA has been adequate.

"It's working," Beran said. "I've never had a problem with it."

The proposed pilot appraisal plan does not seem problematic, said Dwight Harris, vice president of the Texas American Federation of Teachers Victoria chapter.

"Teachers usually don't have a problem with the instrument of an appraisal," Harris said. "It's usually the process they have a problem with."

Justin Cox, assistant principal at Patti Welder, said his campus has been sampling the proposed pilot system since late October.

"It's really user-friendly and helps teachers grade themselves," Cox said. "That way, they can see what their strengths and weaknesses may be and gives them a better idea of where they can grow."

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