The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

June 9, 2014

Most districts ready to evaluate new teachers


“It’s taking us away from the days where teachers close their doors and are taught in a silo and did their own thing. This model really pushes people to work together and collaborate as a team.”

Although Barton likes the state’s model, he found it required too much paperwork and too many classroom visits for already busy administrators like himself.

“There’s some pieces in there that aren’t practical, and that’s why we had to pare it down and make it more user friendly for us,” he said.

A February report by the University of Minnesota, which reviewed the pilot project midway through the school year, found that teachers and administrators supported the statewide evaluation system because it boosted professional development for teachers.

But they also expressed concern that the system lacked the state funding needed to be sustainable and placed a heavy burden on principals as evaluators.

The Caledonia district is working with teachers to develop its own evaluations.

Janelle Field Rohrer, president of the Caledonia union, said the state’s evaluation model proved burdensome, particularly for the district’s special education teachers, who were required to write student goals twice because district and state paperwork didn’t match up.

Rohrer, who teaches English, history and art to middle and high school students, wants the district’s own evaluation system to be streamlined.

“I’m hoping it won’t be too overwhelming,” she said. “Paperwork is going to be a part of it. We have good teachers in Caledonia, I know they’ll work through it. It’s going to be something to learn.”

State education officials expect fewer than 20 of Minnesota’s more than 300 districts to use the state model for their evaluation systems.

“The state model is one way to meet those requirements, but certainly not the only model.”

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