Cincinnati teacher evaluation system shows promise
After two years of development, Cincinnati Public Schools recently revealed its new teacher evaluation system, which ties teacher pay to student performance. The new system, reportedly the first of its kind in the Buckeye State, will evaluate teachers on measures of student growth as well as things like integrating technology in the classroom and classroom management. CPS’s evaluation system comes ahead of many state and federal efforts to improve how teachers’ job performance is judged. The state’s biennial budget, Senate Bill 5 (Ohio’s collective bargaining reform law), and the federal Race to the Top program will require districts to implement teacher evaluations that link teacher pay to student achievement in some fashion.
Cincinnati’s new evaluation system incorporates three separate components at various intervals in a teacher’s career: annual evaluations, performance evaluations, and comprehensive evaluations.
At the beginning of the school year teachers participate in a conference with their principal to discuss priorities for the coming school year. As a product of the conference two goals are identified from a predetermined list, and teachers must focus on their goals during the year. At least one of the goals must be related to improving student achievement data. At the end of the school year, the goals are scored as either having been exceeded, met, or not met. The annual evaluations also include a checklist of professional responsibilities, such as timely grading, evidence of lesson planning, and indicators of professionalism like arriving to work on time. The checklist is completed by the principal at the conclusion of the school year. One unannounced classroom observation makes up the last piece of the annual evaluation system.
Comprehensive evaluations are required every five years and prior to granting a continuing contract. The evaluations are more in depth and require that student growth, achievement, and performance be a significant factor in the process. A successful evaluation will be linked to teacher advancement and increased pay. The final details of this evaluation are still a work in progress.
The performance evaluation is a more rigorous evaluation component that is linked to teacher’s salary starting after 10 years of employment with the district. At the beginning of the school year, teachers write a reflective paper discussing their professional strengths and weaknesses, and priorities for the upcoming year. The paper is revisited at the end of the year by the principal to determine what development the teacher made during the course of the year. Like the annual evaluations, observations and goals play a role in the performance evaluation. However, for the performance evaluations, three goals must be identified and teachers get two classroom observations. Performance observations are optional; a positive review can result in as much as an $800 bonus.
The three components of the evaluation system – annual, performance, and comprehensive – will take effect this coming school year as a pilot program. After the pilot year, the district will hold focus groups to determine how the system is working and what changes need to be made. In the meantime CPS will conduct briefing sessions with parents, teachers, the general public, and members of the business community to discuss the new evaluation system and receive feedback.
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