NHPS Teacher Evaluation System Finishes Successful First Year

Monday, September 12, 2011
Christopher Hoffman
The New Haven Public Schools’ groundbreaking teacher evaluation process has concluded its first year with almost 75 percent of teachers and 84 percent of administrators rated effective or better and almost half the teachers originally at risk for dismissal improving significantly, in some cases dramatically.
A significant number of principals also saw improvement thanks to the new system, which U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten have praised as a model for the nation.
“I’m pleased and proud that so many of our teachers and administrators scored so well,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Reginald Mayo said. “Our evaluation system clearly improved classroom performance, turning good teachers into great ones. The emphasis on support and training enabled lower rated teachers to improve.
“The results of this process – almost 75 percent of teachers and 84 percent of administrators rated effective or better – show the district is on its way to building the best professional staff in America, a core goal of our School Change reforms. I just want to thank teachers and administrators and their bargaining units for working with the district to make the new evaluation system a success. This process is a model for the nation, promoting cooperation to assure teachers have the resources to excel – thereby enabling their students to excel. ”
New Haven Federation of Teachers President David Cicarella said, “Our new evaluation systems are a credit to the hard work put in by teachers and administrators who labored side by side for a full year in their planning. Those in need of assistance receive support and the necessary time and tools to improve. The data is clear that an overwhelming majority of educators in New Haven are very effective.”
At the end of last school year and over the summer, the district’s 1,846 teachers and 44 principals were awarded one of five ratings ranging from “needs improvement” to “exemplary.”  Of the teachers, 73 percent scored in the top three rankings, “exemplary,”“strong,” or “effective.” Among administrators, 84 percent received one of the top three ratings.
The 8 percent of teachers rated “exemplary” have been recognized for their excellence and will have the opportunity to serve as educational leaders in their schools and the district. 
The district considered 75 teachers, including tenured and untenured, for termination because of low ratings. The system provided those teachers with intensive support and training to improve their performance. Three improved enormously, going from “1” to “4” (strong). Nine rose to “3” (effective) and 17 went to “2” (developing).
Of the remaining teachers, the district concluded that 34 – 1.9 percent of the district’s teaching corps – failed to improve sufficiently. Those results were verified by independent validators agreed upon by the district and the teachers union, one of the evaluation system’s groundbreaking features.  

All 34 have left the district voluntarily, retiring or resigning. Of those, 16 were tenured, 1.3 percent of all tenured teachers, and 18 non-tenured, 2.8 percent of all non-tenured teachers.  Although the numbers of departing staff remain relatively small, they represent a significant departure from historical practice in New Haven and districts nationwide.
In addition, the district has let go 4 principals between last school year and this year, reflecting the importance of top-to-bottom accountability.

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