School Board discusses new evaluation system for ESD teachers

During the Edmonds School District (ESD) board meeting held on Tuesday, October 27, Executive Director of Human Resources Debby Carter and Assessment, Research, Evaluation Program Director Candace Gratama reported to the ESD board members new evaluation standards set for teachers.

Carter and Gratama took to the microphone and spoke with the ESD board members about how the teacher evaluation system, which had been used until the 2013-2014 school year was not as effective as it could have been. Carter explained that it had seven criteria set up with two tiers, satisfactory and unsatisfactory. According to whether they met each criteria, a teacher would score in either tier and, if deemed unsatisfactory, plans would be made to help the teacher improve and become satisfactory.

Carter went on to explain that if a teacher did not make the changes necessary, it could result in them losing their job.

In spring of 2014, Washington state “revamped” the evaluation system, according to Carter. The state wanted to see more “consistency” across the state and thus created a system that had every teacher scored by their principal with recurring criteria. Each district had the option to choose a certain framework, ESD choosing the “Danielson” framework.

The new evaluation system now has four, instead of two, levels in which teachers can be placed: unsatisfactory, basic, proficient and distinguished. There are also now eight criteria that teachers should follow, Carter said.

During the “Student Representatives Comments” part of the meeting, MTHS representative Paxtyn Merten said it could be hard for certain teachers, especially the ones that made a large influence on her in middle and high school, to follow certain criteria because they don’t always fit in those standards. She said resources should be spent on making sure the evaluation can apply to different teachers with different teaching methods.

“It’s hard to say we should evaluate teachers the same because a math teacher doesn’t teach the same as a photography teacher would,” Mertan said.

Candace Gramata joined the conversation, saying that ESD has been working on a study to propose the evaluation and to provide both qualitative and quantitative numbers.

ESD President Diana White said that the new evaluation system has changed from a 15 minute process to a 15 hour process.

Carter said there will hopefully soon be a new process for the evaluation process altogether, including focus groups, surveys and state education officials visiting schools throughout the year. There are various different plans for throughout the year that ESD hopes to follow up on, Gramata said.

Director of District One Kory DeMun said he wants to know what the outcome will be with these plans.

“The outcome is the most important thing in this process,” DeMun stated.

Both Gramata and Carter explained that, with the new system, they hope to see which teachers need improvement in the district.

Gramata and Carter also said that there will most likely be a representative group of teachers brought forth from each subject matter and grade level to be evaluated using focus groups and surveys. They will also give feedback on the evaluation system all together.

Diana White said she hopes to see positive results that will benefit and help ESD because over two million dollars has gone into the process. According to White, it is an “unfunded mandate,” meaning the state does not give money to fund the system, all money comes directly from the district itself.

There has been a timeline set by ESD for the study of the new evaluation process.

Activity Timeline
Approval and Finalization of Evaluation Plan October 2015-November 2015.
Develop the Survey November 2015
Site Visits/Focus Groups December 2015-January 2016
Analysis of Existing Data December 2015-January 2016
Survey Administration January 2016
Writing of Report February 2016
Presentation to the School Board March 2016
Data provided by the Edmonds School District.

Gramata and Carter left the stand, saying they hope to receive more data by the next ESD board meeting, November 10 at 6:30 p.m.