Good Afternoon!

The purpose of this message to provide advance notice of proposed changes to the SCS evaluation system.  The proposal will be presented to the Salem City School Board at the February 14, 2017 Board Meeting and possibly approved in March 2017.

Although I anticipate that this proposal will be well received by most, we want to be sure to provide a clear explanation of the changes and invite you to participate in the process.

Background

On August 14, 2012, the Salem City School Board approved a new Professional Evaluation System for SCS professional staff based on the work of teams of teachers who participated in The Growth Project.

The Growth Project had three different areas of focus, but the goal for the teacher teams working on the evaluation process was to develop professional evaluations consistent with the state model (Guidelines for Uniform Performance Standards and Evaluation Criteria).  These guidelines were established by the State Board of Education (BOE) in 2011 and were designed to meet new requirements of the United States Education Department (USED) for states that accepted the “stimulus funds” made available during The Great Recession.  These new requirements from the USED were anchored in federal authority related to the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 and intended to leverage the USED’s Race To the Top (RTT) initiatives using the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) funds.

When the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act was replaced by Congress with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in December of 2015 some authority was returned to the states, including most requirements involving evaluation processes.  Eventually, the Virginia BOE may revisit the evaluation guidelines established in 2011, but rather than wait, I asked division leaders to re-examine what is currently required to be part of our teacher evaluation process with the goal of eliminating something that is no longer required and largely contrary to The Salem Way.

Our primary interest is to return the focus of our process back to providing descriptive feedback…making the annual evaluation conference about building on strengths and identifying opportunities for improvement for all employees.  Regrettably, the federal requirements addressed by the state model in 2011 included the generation of a numeric “score” that too often resulted in conversations that were more about a number and less about the unique individual strengths and opportunities for improvement we all have.

Now that the requirements of NCLB have been replaced by ESSA, we have revisited the The Code of Virginia (22.1-253.13:5) that requires that the professional evaluation system:

  • include student academic progress as a significant component;

  • provide an overall summative rating; and

  • identify areas of individual strengths and weaknesses and recommendations for appropriate professional activities.

 

The Code of Virginia does not require a “score,” meaning that our current professional evaluation system was built, in part, to meet regulations anchored in NCLB that no longer exist.

Summary of Expected Revisions

The purpose and focus of our evaluation process should not be a numeric rating at a point in time, but on the descriptive feedback consistent with our commitment to continuous improvement.

I have given the H.R. Office an ambitious timeline to draft changes to our evaluation process that honor the categories and rubrics that Salem teachers created as part of The Growth Project, but removes the scoring system the USED mandated at the time.  (We want to continue to use what Salem teachers built as a tool to provide descriptive feedback and facilitate a growth mindset, just not the elements that were forced upon us at the time.)

At the February 14, 2017 meeting of the Salem City School Board, we plan to present, for first review, select changes to the SCS Professional Evaluation System.  The proposed change will eliminate the numeric score that is currently entered for each standard, opting to use the descriptors instead.  While we will  still need to determine a single “summative rating,” as required by the Code of Virginia, it will no longer be calculated by adding together the seven performance standard scores.  The School Board will have the option to comment on the proposed changes and to provide guidance and suggestions for division leaders to use in preparing a recommendation for adoption in March.

If approved, all summative evaluation forms will be changed in TalentEd Perform to reflect the updated Professional Evaluation System by March 31, 2017.  The categories, indicators, and rubrics will be unchanged.  The only significant difference will be the absence of a numeric values for each standard and an overall calculated score.

Invitation

Although this is not a “re-do” of the entire system, just an elimination of scores and a calculation that are no longer required, the H.R. Office will keep you apprised and you are also welcome to follow the work in BoardDocs. As always, you are welcome to offer any comments, suggestions, or questions that you may have to Kirstine Barber, Supervisor of Human Resources, or directly to me at any time.

Best regards to all and Happy New Year!

Alan Seibert