MEEKER I Some in our community may remember Senate Bill 191, passed in 2010, that fundamentally changed the way teachers and principals in Colorado are evaluated. Since that time, school districts across the state, including Meeker, have allocated a great deal of time to ensure that the implementation of the law provided a fair evaluation of teacher and principal performance as well as a framework for professional growth of teachers and principals.
The law, and subsequent rulemaking, requires that all districts in the state utilize an evaluation system that “meets or exceeds” the Colorado Model Evaluation System. In order to support school districts, the Colorado Department of Education developed an evaluation system that can be used by school districts if they so choose.
For small rural districts like Meeker, developing our own evaluation system is generally not an option because significant resources are needed to create a system that would meet the state’s requirements. Thus, we have chosen to use the state model. This model consists of two separate parts.
Professional practices consist of five teaching standards and six standards for principals. An 18-page rubric is used to develop a rating for each teacher and principal based on these professional practices. Principals fill out this rubric for each teacher, every year, then have an interactive conversation with teachers to finalize the professional practices rating. Likewise, the superintendent completes this process for every principal, every year. Following completion of the rubric, a professional practices rating is calculated for each teacher and principal.
The measurements of student learning (MSL) piece of the evaluation is also a collaborative process between teachers, principals and the superintendent. The school district has a committee empowered to set the broad frameworks for MSLs.
Teachers, principals and the superintendent then develop achievable but rigorous learning goals for students within these frameworks. A combination of goals are developed from data collected through state testing, third party tests (such as NWEA or DIBELS tests), classroom assessments and classroom activities.
Generally, each teacher and principal has between four and eight goals. Achievement of each goal is rated and consolidation of the rating for all goals occurs to develop a total rating for the MSL piece of the evaluation. As with the professional practices, this process takes place for every teacher, every year and for every principal, every year.
Once the MSL calculation and the professional practice rubric are complete, a final rating is calculated. Half of the final rating comes from the MSL rating and the other half comes from the professional practices rating. Teachers’ and principals’ final ratings fall into one of four categories: ineffective, partially effective, effective or highly effective.
Through this brief description, I hope our community understands the depth of our teacher and principal evaluation system and the significant amount of work required to complete this process.
Though time consuming, the intent of such an evaluation system is to ensure that the licensed personnel in our buildings are continually encouraged to grow professionally so that all of our children will have outstanding teachers and principals.
Despite the complexity of this system, our teachers and principals have willingly engaged in the associated processes. As a result, they have had deep and meaningful conversations about teaching practices and about how to measure student learning. We have focused adults in our buildings committed to professional growth and student learning.
Because of this, I have one more reason to state that I am proud to be a Meeker Cowboy!