Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Breakthrough in teacher evaluations

The Mercury News reported this morning that San Jose Unified is working on a contract that revolutionizes the way teachers are evaluated.  It creates a "teacher quality panel", and puts some real teeth in the teacher evaluation process.  The new evals include things like peer and student feedback, as well as standardized test scores as a component.  The agreement also provides for increased compensation at the top end of the scale, as well as various other "carrots" for successful evaluations.

The agreement is a huge deal because teachers unions general have a reputation as obstructing progress in this area.  I'm excited to see a local school district taking bold steps to re-examine how they work together. 

I've made it no secret that I'd like to revamp the way we evaluate teachers.  Mostly, when I look at this framework, I see a possibility of developing greater trust between administration and staff.  The entire profession is helped when we can effectively coach and correct those who under perform, and it is also helped when we recognize those who are really making a difference.

At Monday's Board meeting, we had a free-ranging discussion about teacher compensation.  Frankly, it has been a long time since we gave any sort of across-the-board raise to teachers and staff.  I think that our staff was excited to hear us discuss the possibility, and I think that those in attendance understood that we want to ensure we have a win:win goal in mind.  We've given some ideas to those working in the negotiation, and we're still collecting competitive data.  For myself, I'd like to see us stretch the salary schedule out a bit, and create some sort of flexible pay scenario.  It could take a lot of forms, but I'm really excited that we're talking about something other than a simple "win/ loss" negotiation.