NORTH ADAMS -- Aside from a few language changes to the model teacher and administration standards provided by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the North Adams Public School’s Educator Evaluation Working Group is recommending the addition of a standard that requires teachers to become literate in technology and implement its use in their lesson plans.
"We felt that the evaluation guidelines provided by the state did not address technology," Director of Research and Evaluation Jean Bacon said Tuesday during a public hearing about the new state-wide standards. "The group felt that it was important to hold our teachers responsible for becoming technologically literate and to incorporate technology into their lesson plans. We see it as being part of their professional growth."
The public hearing on the new standards and evaluation requirements, which go into effect in September for school districts receiving federal Race to the Top funds, was hosted by the North Adams School Committee. The hearing, which was required before the standards and evaluation guidelines can be brought forward in negotiations with the North Adams Teachers Union, drew little interest from the public, with City Councilor Lisa Blackmer being the lone individual in attendance.
"The standards -- for teachers, specialized teachers and administration -- provided by DESE are not negotiable. We can add to them and adapt the language," Bacon said.
Over the last 14 months, the working group, which includes Bacon, two other administrators and six teachers, has been attending workshops, reviewing the standards and guidelines, and putting together professional development programs to support faculty and staff.
Superintendent James E. Montepare said that while few districts have finalized negotiations with their teachers’ unions, those that have are coming out with rubrics and evaluation measures that look very similar to those provided by the state.
School Committee member Larry Taft questioned if the definitions in the rubrics used to evaluate teacher performance were "too subjective" and how teachers and administrators would be evaluated.
"Each teacher and administrator will have to produce evidence, whether it’s professional development workshops or showing how they are aligning best practices learned from another organization with their lesson plans," Bacon said.
Greylock Elementary Principal Sandra Cote, a member of the working group, said teachers will also be evaluated throughout the year by building principals and will also have well-defined individual and district goals to achieve.
School Committee Vice Chairwoman Heather Boulger expressed concern about the additional work for the principals, which will include at least six 10-minute classroom evaluations per teacher a year.
"My biggest concern is the time, the intensity and how overwhelming this can be for our principals and our teachers," she said. "I want to ensure that we, as a community, are providing as much professional development and support for our administrators and teachers."
School Committee member Mary Lou Accetta said after having attended at least 40 hours of training in her role as a faculty member at McCann Technical School, she believes the new requirements don’t "make teachers work harder, but encourages them to work smarter."
Cote added, "It opens a dialogue between the administrators and the educators. It’s a good thing."