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Rethinking Professional Evaluations in the Morgan County School District

Article Date: 
8 October, 2010 - 06:00

Student learning is the supreme reason for a school’s existence and optimal student learning is the top priority of the Morgan County School District.  Teachers and administrators in each of the district’s four schools work diligently towards this outcome.  Teachers at all levels of instruction are the key components in making sure that quality instruction is occurring for the students who have been entrusted to them in their classrooms, and there is a large body of research evidence that supports the notion that “the classroom teacher is the most significant factor that affects student learning”.  
With that being said, it only makes sense that there would be some system in place to ensure that quality instruction is being delivered to students by teachers.  Professional assessment and a sound teacher evaluation process can be an important factor in leading to excellent instruction, optimal student learning, and our desired outcomes.  Evaluation is essential to the continual improvement of the quality of life of each individual within the school, including both students and teachers.  As the district’s newly appointed instructional leader, Superintendent Adams has given members of both the teaching and administrative staffs the challenge of revisiting, rethinking, and revising the district’s current professional assessment policy and procedures.  In completing this task, he has asked that we strongly consider implementing more peer observation and teacher collaboration throughout the district as a means to improve the evaluation process that is currently being used.
    The task of revising the Morgan School District Professional Assessment Procedures will be addressed by a group of teachers and administrators working together throughout the 2010-2011 school year.  This process will be accomplished by completing each of the following steps:  1) All teachers and administrators from each of the schools attended a district “Welcome Back” meeting held on August 23, 2010 where they participated in a 30 min. “Growth & Evaluation” session.  2) Teachers and administrators reviewed the professional assessment procedures currently utilized by the district.  3) The principals from each school in the district asked for teacher volunteers from their buildings to participate in peer observation and teacher collaboration throughout the district during the school year.  4) A 16 member Evaluation Committee was formed which is comprised of a school board member, a parent, administrators and teachers from Morgan Elementary School, Mountain Green Elementary School, Morgan Middle School, Morgan High School, and the District Office.  5) Committee members were asked to bring ideas to the first meeting that was scheduled for Sept. 23, 2010.  6) The committee members will meet several times throughout the year to continue this process.  7) The committee will share their final suggestions and recommendations with the school board in the spring of 2011.  Our goal is to have the professional assessment procedures and tools revised and approved for use for the 2011-2012 school year.
As we move forward with the changes in our district it is important that we view evaluation as a way of showing concern for students, faculty, staff, and even the community itself.  The evaluation process should be thought of as a clarification of purpose and generation of data. Through the analysis of that data, we can determine the next steps in providing quality instruction and enhancing learning for the students of our community.