Education Week Profiles NHPS Teacher Evaluation System

Contract Yields New Teacher-Evaluation System
 
Partnership yields revised evaluation system in New Haven
By Stephen Sawchuk

New Haven, Conn.
 
When Melissa Rhone returns to her 4th grade classroom in the Brennan-Rogers School after a brief interruption, her students greet her jubilantly.
 
"Ms. Rhone, look how many compliments we got!" they say, pointing to eight lines ticked on the whiteboard by a substitute teacher, each one representing an instance of good classroom behavior.
 
The ticks mean even more to Ms. Rhone: They're evidence of her growth and success as a teacher.
 
Last November, she received a preliminary rating of 1, the lowest level, on the district's new teacher-evaluation system, primarily because of classroom-management issues that sprang up after a co-teacher quit early on in the school year.
 
But over the course of the school year, with support from instructional coaches, her principal, her husband, and some hard work, Ms. Rhone improved her performance to a 3—a good rating on the 5-point scale.
 
"I think maybe I used the fact that the co-teacher had left as a crutch," Ms. Rhone said. "Getting that 1 was the reality check I needed. I couldn't float by, not getting things in order."
 
Outlined in a new contract in 2009Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader, delineated in the 2009-10 school year, and implemented in 2010-11, TEVAL, as the system is known, requires at least three "professional conferences" between an instructional leader performing classroom observations and each teacher. The conferences help to home in on areas on strength and weakness and provide a path for improvement. The system also integrates student-achievement results.
 
TEVAL is only part of the district's three-pronged improvement efforts, but it's emblematic of New Haven's commitment to reform in partnership with its teachers' union.
 
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