New teachers in the Steamboat Springs School District on Monday fill out self-evaluations during a workshop at Steamboat Springs High School. The district will roll out a new teacher evaluation system this school year.

Photo by Scott Franz

New teachers in the Steamboat Springs School District on Monday fill out self-evaluations during a workshop at Steamboat Springs High School. The district will roll out a new teacher evaluation system this school year.

Steamboat Springs School District prepares to roll out new teacher grading system

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— Parents won't notice it.

Even students won't see it.

But starting this school year, educators in the Steamboat Springs School District and in all public schools across the state will see some major changes to the way they are graded each year.

“Our best hopes for this are that it will provide us a better picture of what our needs are for our teachers for staff development, and we will meet those needs with appropriate staff development and support,” Steamboat Springs Curriculum Director Marty Lamansky said as he outlined the more than two years of work that already has gone into changing his district's teacher evaluation system.

The changes mandated by the state legislature in 2010 with the passage of Senate Bill 191 will be significant.

Tenured teachers now will have to receive satisfactory reviews annually to keep their non-probationary status.

And for the first time, half of each educator's evaluation will be based on the academic performance of students.

For a fourth grade teacher, that could mean factoring in the performance of their students on the annual Transitional Colorado Assessment Program, or TCAP.

But Lamansky said more than 60 percent of all teachers districtwide are in non-TCAP-related positions.

That means the student achievement factor in the evaluation for a physical education teacher in Steamboat Springs will be based largely on the results of a common assessment that incorporates fitness.

Other teachers of elective courses will have their own common assessments.

“Each department either has or will have assessments that they're giving that are going to be common to measure student achievement,” Lamansky said.

The other major change will be the frequency of evaluations.

Prior to last school year, tenured teachers who served more than three years in the Steamboat School District were evaluated only once every three years.

The school district last year started evaluating every educator every school year.

“That has significantly increased the workload of building administrators,” Lamansky said. “In some cases, you're more than doubling the amount of observations you have to do.”

Lamansky said teachers have had plenty of questions about the system.

On Friday, they'll be presented with the school district's proposed plan for how to incorporate the assessments into the evaluations.

The Denver Post reported earlier this month some teachers weren't yet on board with the new system.

“There's massive anxiety about it,” Wheat Ridge High School social studies teacher Stephanie Rossi told the Post. “Are we ready for it? No, because we don't know what it is yet.”

Every educator now will have a conference with their evaluator, usually a principal, near the start of the school year to discuss the evaluation and goals for the future.

The educator then will be observed during the school year, and the evaluation ends with another conference.

Educators also will do a self-evaluation.

The new evaluation system will determine if teachers are ineffective, partially effective, effective or highly effective.

Teachers who are deemed less than effective for more than two years can be placed back on probationary status.

The new rule applies to even the district's most veteran educators.

To prepare for the new system, a committee of 14 educators in the district led by Lamansky have been meeting at least monthly now for two years.

On Monday, about 20 teachers who are new to the district spent an hour at Steamboat Springs High School familiarizing themselves with the new evaluation system.

They also graded themselves on a number of subjects.

Lamansky acknowledged a lot of time and effort has gone into implementing the state's new rules.

He's optimistic all the work will be worth the effort.

“It's not going to change what most of the public sees on a daily basis,” Lamansky said about the changes. “What it's going to do is it keeps pushing us to constantly reflect on how are we going to improve our practice.”

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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