Steamboat Springs South Routt School District hopes to be a part of a new Colorado Department of Education pilot program for evaluating teachers and principals.
“We know we’re going to have to change our evaluation system, and we know that if we’re selected for this pilot program, we would have a leg up on getting it up to date and on par with new state requirements,” South Routt Superintendent Scott Mader said.
South Routt was one of 41 Colorado districts to apply for the program, which will select up to 10 districts to implement new evaluation systems for their educators.
The pilot program stems from last year’s passage of Senate Bill 10-191, which will require school districts to change their evaluation systems to a new state-supported model by the 2014-15 school year.
The Education Department said in a news release that it had received more applications for the program than expected, and the department plans to tell districts no later than Aug. 10 whether they have been accepted.
Mader said that if his district were not chosen, it would still begin retooling the evaluation system for its 41 licensed educators next year. He said South Routt has not previously included student performance in its official evaluations of educators, but that will change next year.
“I don’t think the teachers have gotten as much out of this (evaluation) process as they should have, and I think we can really gain from this pilot program both as administrators and teachers,” he said. “If it’s done properly, I think the feedback the teachers get in the classroom can be much better.”
According to the Colorado Department of Education, school districts selected for the program will provide feedback to the state on their evaluation systems and identify the challenges and strengths of their evaluations.
Mader said his district would continue evaluating teachers and principals by observing them in the classroom, but also would find a way to include student achievement in evaluations.
“You really don’t have to have student achievement incorporated into your evaluation right now, but that’s what I see becoming the requirement,” he said. “There’s going to be some fairness issues because we have those teachers that teach CSAP courses, and others that teach art and music classes that are not CSAP tested.”
Mader said South Routt would be an ideal district for the pilot program because of its willingness to implement a new evaluation system.
“If we’re selected, I think the state can learn from us, and we can learn from the state,” he said.
The Education Department said districts are being selected based on their diversity of size, geography, student demographics and readiness for change.
— To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email ScottFranz@SteamboatToday.com