District says evaluation process not set in stone

Time, input expected to bring changes

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A Douglas County School District administrator said he’s disappointed to learn some teachers are confused by the new teacher evaluation system, which he said was created with ample teacher input and careful consideration.

“That saddens me to a certain aspect,” said Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education Christian Cutter, who oversaw the program’s development. “We worked so diligently this year with our principals and evaluators. We are adamant in maintaining an attention to the clarity of this document.”

It also surprises Cutter, who said he’s heard largely positive comments.

“I would say that the feedback we’ve gotten so far has not led us to believe any large-scale changes would be made,” he said. “I’ve heard from principals it’s some of the best conversations they’ve had (with teachers).”

Nevertheless, Cutter said the program is not cast in concrete.

“We will look at areas that weren’t articulated in the hopes of addressing that element clearly, and we will refine it,” Cutter said. “It’s never going to be a permanent document.”

The evaluations are designed to motivate teachers to improve instructional techniques and, consequently, student performance, according to the district. It’s also intended to be a two-way process, with teachers working with evaluators to create an accurate reflection of their performance.

“It’s the teacher’s responsibility as well as the principal’s to be a collaborative member of the discussion around the evaluation,” said Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education Dan McMinimee. “There are so many other opportunities now for a teacher to bring information to the evaluator to share with them how they meet those marks.”

Dozens of teachers, who were paid for the additional time, helped create aspects of the program.

“Over the past year, we have probably had hundreds of opportunities for teachers to be involved in various things that are going on,” Cutter said. “In terms of the evaluation, there have been years of teacher input.”