Teacher evaluation model piloted in New Ulm

NEW ULM – A teacher evaluation model piloted in New Ulm this school year is receiving mostly positive preliminary feedback from teachers, the District 88 Board of Education learned last week.

The board heard a report on the model, from Superintendent Jeff Bertrang and a three-teacher leadership team that led the pilot’s implementation.

The idea of the new model is to create a professional evaluation tool that provides a more objective and comprehensive view of a teacher’s work compared to a traditional principal’s evaluation. The model seeks to incorporates elements such as data about student engagement, learning and growth, peer reviews, etc., and to help teachers grow in their teaching.

It will become mandatory for schools statewide next year.

To receive funding to implement the model as a pilot site, New Ulm had to commit to implementing all of its components in one year, the team said in its report. The district used a Minnesota Department of Education evaluation system to do so. An MDE grant was made available to pay staff for the additional work to implement the pilot.

A company working for the MDE is conducting surveys with the staff to get feedback on the pilot, said the team’s report. The final results of the pilot will be published some time next year.

The main components assessed under the model are: teacher practice; student engagement; and student learning and growth, the report continued.

Teacher practice was evaluated via individual teacher growth plans, peer reviews and summative evaluations.

Student engagement was assessed via student surveys, classroom observations and peer observation of engagement.

Student achievement and growth were measured by setting learning goals and shared performance goals.

As part of the model’s implementation, the local faculty completed several steps:

The leadership team, representing all sites and administration, spent last summer developing a process for New Ulm. Meetings were scheduled throughout the year to monitor progress.

Staff development focused on the implementation of each component during the year.

A mid-year survey was taken on teachers’ level of understanding and professional development needs.

The district conducted follow-up trainings on growth plans, peer reviews and student engagement surveys.

The team met to review their work and what the faculty wants the New Ulm plan to look like in the future.

The following feedback was gathered about the model, reported the team:

Great professional development was provided with the peer review process.

It takes a lot of extra work to complete the necessary forms and use the MDE software (but this process should become easier with familiarity).

Questions were raised about the availability of funding to do what is required in future years.

Some staff struggled with the requirements, understanding of the requirements, and time.

Having a district-level goal helped to focus people for peer review expectations.

Specific plans will be needed for evaluating specialists (nurse, counselors, media centers staff).

It is a lot of work for the principals to get all staff’s individual growth plans reviewed and to work on evaluations and trainings.

Staff liked the growth plans, goal setting and peer reviews.

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