County pilots new teacher assessment program
By Kathryn Schiliro
If state House Bill 244 makes it through the Georgia Senate, teachers and school administrators will officially have a new instrument by which they're evaluated.
Morgan County, along with some other systems, has been chosen by the state to pilot this new evaluation tool– the Teacher Keys Effectiveness System (TKES). So, while educators statewide are awaiting the outcome of that bill, county administrators are already TKES-credentialed.
Morgan County system administration, principals, assistant principals and instructional lead teachers – all of whom conduct teacher evaluations – took a two-day course to be trained on the tool, after which they were required to take and pass a test, which they did, according to Assistant Superintendents Debra White and Sarah Burbach.
The TKES is set to be the new tool by which teachers are evaluated. Instead of an observation by a school administrator, the TKES uses a "totality of evidence" to evaluate teachers, White said; this includes measures of student achievement, surveys and student input on learning as well as in-classroom observations.
There are three components to the TKES: Teacher Assessment on Performance Standards, Student Growth and Academic Achievement, and Surveys of Instructional Practice, according to information provided by White. Those performance standards are 10-fold: (1) professional knowledge, or the teacher's "understanding of the curriculum, subject content, pedagogical knowledge and the needs of students by providing relevant learning experiences;" (2) instructional planning using state and local standards as well as strategies, resources and data to address all students' learning needs; (3) instructional strategies, or research-proven ways to engage students and facilitate acquisition of knowledge; (4) differentiated instruction, or tailoring teaching to the individual; (5) assessment strategies, or using a variety of tests to assess students' knowledge; (6) assessment uses, or using the tests to measure individual progress, tailor instruction and provide more informed feedback to students and parents; (7) positive learning environment conducive to learning; (8) academically challenging environment; (9) professionalism, including using professional growth opportunities to support learning; and (10) communication with students, parents, district and school personnel and others.
Teachers will be evaluated twice a year through TKES with a mid-year informative conference.
As of Feb. 28, the bill sailed through the House with 151 favorable votes and was in the state Senate as of March 1. Provided the bill passes the Senate, the new instrument will be applied statewide and will be required to be implemented by all schools, even charter schools and systems, in the 2014-2015 school year. Because Morgan County is piloting the program, the TKES will go into effect here next school year.
Piloting the program has been largely beneficial because the state Department of Education has been able to provide the system with one-on-one attention, White said. Once the TKES is applied statewide, the DOE will be spread very thin.
White will introduce the system's teachers to the TKES beginning next week and will revisit TKES with teachers again at the start of the 2013-2014 school year.
Printed in the March 14, 2013 edition