News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 13, 2013

Vigo school board to elect officers Monday

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — The Vigo County School Board will elect officers during an organizational meeting at 6 p.m. Monday.

The board will make other appointments and approve the 2013 meeting calendar.

Later, during the regular meeting, the board will be asked to approve changes related to teacher evaluations.

The changes reduce the amount of time and frequency of observations, unless a teacher is rated “ineffective” or “needs improvement.”

“There have been some clarifications on some things from the state,” said Mick Newport, director of human resources. The district believes the changes “are more manageable … and more reasonable.”

The changes still meet the requirements of state law.

Under the RISE evaluation tool, observations were the same for all teachers regardless of years of experience. Each year, teachers had to have two extended observations of 40 minutes each (one per semester), with post conference and written feedback within five schools days.

Under RISE, teachers also had to have three short observations of 10 minutes each (at least one per semester), with teachers to receive written feedback within two school days.

Those requirements would be reduced, under recommendations that will go before the School Board.

Under the changes, teachers with three or more years’ experience would have to have at least 60 minutes of observation by the principal, with at least two observations. Written feedback would be within 10 days.

First- and second-year teachers would have at least 90 minutes of observations, with a minimum of three observations (two before Christmas). Written feedback would be within 10 days.

Teachers rated “ineffective” or “needs improvement” would require at least 120 minutes of observation, with a minimum of four observations (with two before Christmas). There would have to be two post conferences and written feedback in 10 days.

The time requirements under RISE “made it pretty difficult,” Newport said, especially for larger schools with many teachers. A 40-minute uninterrupted observation can sometimes be very difficult for a principal to complete, he said.

For teachers with three or more years of experience, “We already have pretty good idea and pretty good feel for what they are doing in the classroom,” Newport said.

If approved by the board, VCSC will then report the changes to the state Department of Education. The district has spoken with DOE, he said.

The district will still evaluate every teacher each year, but those with more experience  won’t require as much observation.

In general, if a principal has some immediate concerns about a teacher, “We begin to start working on those types of things right away,” Newport said.

As soon as those concerns arise, whether there has been an evaluation or not, the principal “needs to contact their director, who will give them direction on helping to improve this teacher as quickly as possible,” Newport said.

In other matters, the board will take action related to the purchase of school buses and it will act on a $180,000 Early Intervention Grant that benefits all elementary schools.

Under information items, a committee will convene this year to review and make recommendations on textbooks and resources for elementary reading and handwriting.

The board will meet at the administration building, 686 Wabash Ave.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.