Of the many issues being debated in the grocery list of reforms in Senate Bill 24, one that is near and dear to teacher’s hearts is the appraisal process. We couldn’t agree more. Involved parents repeatedly hear of the conflicts between principals and teachers and the “fairness” of the overall process. To be sure it seems a bit convoluted, its a 57 page document. We hear of abuses to the system , where ratings can be arbitrary and or inflated for what is referred to as ‘principal’s pets.’ Therefore, at the last Board of Ed meeting, we asked that the BoE look into opening up the process by providing a baseline to the public and NPS staff of the appraisal system. By that, we mean that we would like to see BY SCHOOL the rating percentages (no names of course) of teaching staff. We want to know the percentages of DISTINGUISHED, PROFICIENT, BASIC and UNSATISFACTORY on a by school basis, so that we can all baseline consistency across schools, and examine for lack of a better term grade inflation. Opening up this process (with no names) will provide everyone with an indication of where Norwalk stands on this controversial topic in anticipated legislative reforms coming down the pike.
Note: We are also pressing for a rating system for Principals because the current NPS appraisal process for principals and administration does not allow for one.
Below is the letter that was read at the Board of Ed Meeting on 3-6-12.
Members of the Board of Education:
I saw on the agendas today, that the Board met with CABE to discuss the superintendent evaluation process and how you will be likely be holding an Executive Session after this meeting, to apply what you have learned, to our own superintendent Dr. Marks. I applaud your efforts. But, I would like to add, as a parent, that we have many more employees in this school district that directly impact our children’s learning. With that in mind, I would like to take this opportunity to make a formal request of the BoE.
Last month, a group of us from Norwalk, myself included, testified on behalf of Norwalk in support of Governor Malloy’s Education Reform Bill, known as Senate Bill 24.
For those not familiar with the bill, it deals with a host of reform issues including:
1) Enhance family access to early childhood education
2) State support and intervention in low performing schools
3) Expand availability of high quality school models
4) Remove red tape and other barriers to success
5) Develop the very best teachers and principals
6) Deliver more resources to districts that embrace reform
Norwalk’s delegation gave testimony in support of the bill, but paid particular attention to items 5 and 6 of the Governor’s bill as it relates to – developing the very best teachers and principals and delivering more resources to districts that embrace reform; in particular the travesty and inequity of funding that our city experiences, when compared to cities and town across the state.
Another more controversial issue that appeared to be resolved in January had to do with the Commissioner of Education and CEA Leadership (the state’s largest teacher’s union) was an agreement on a new standardized evaluation process for teachers which would take into account a number of factors including: standardized tests, classroom performance, peer, student and parent feedback. Since January, CEA has experienced buyer’s remorse and are seeking changes to the plan. CEA Executive Director, Mary Loftus Levine, speaking at the time of the agreement, wanted a fair, valuable and reliable mechanism for evaluating teachers. I couldn’t agree more. But may I also add the word, consistent.
With changes coming down from the state with regard to the evaluation process of staff, it would probably be a good idea for Norwalk to get ahead of the curve and understand where it stands with respect to its own staff’s appraisals. Therefore, I would like to formally request a public status report of the appraisal process for the principals and teachers of all 19 schools. Included in that report, I would like to see the status of principals (not by name mind you) and the rating percentages of NPS teachers which includes: unsatisfactory, basic, proficient and distinguished, BY SCHOOL. I personally have concerns with a process that has 57 pages (37 for administration) and upon examining the documents myself, look about as complicated as the US tax code. I’m sure that the Board, Mr. Mellion and Mr. Ditrio would ALL agree that Norwalk needs to ENSURE a consistent application of the evaluation process across ALL 19 schools, so that parents are assured a great education for all students and teachers are ensured the fair process they deserve. The best place to start is to baseline where we already are today.
Read By Lauren Rosato