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April 25, 2015

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New regulations for evaluating Nevada teachers win approval

The Nevada Board of Education unanimously adopted legislative changes to a new teacher evaluation system rolling out this fall.

In 2011, state lawmakers mandated a four-tiered rating system that grades teachers as being "highly effective," "effective," "minimally effective" or "ineffective" based on student test scores and how well teachers model good teaching practices.

Currently, teachers are evaluated by their principals through two classroom observations and are rated either "satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory."

For the past two years, the Teachers and Leaders Council — a group of 15 educators, parents and policymakers — has been working on how best to put into practice this new evaluation system, including developing a new rubric and methodology for grading teachers. The council’s recommendations were reviewed and enhanced this past legislative session.

The new regulations — recently passed by lawmakers — require that the Nevada Department of Education begin piloting the new evaluation system this fall, with full adoption by the end of the 2014-15 school year.

After reviewing the pilot program and taking feedback, the state school board must finalize the evaluation system by July 2015. The final system will include a "scoring matrix," used to grade teachers based on classroom observations, student test scores and teacher portfolios, self-reflections and goals.

Half of a teachers' evaluation will be based on student achievement data over a period of three years:

• Students' test scores

• Student "growth," or how much teachers were able to improve their students on standardized tests

• "Gaps reduction," or how well teachers were able to minimize the achievement gaps between different student groups, such as special education and minority students.

The other half of a teacher's evaluation will be based on how well they model best teaching practices. This will be done through classroom observations, teacher portfolios and self-reflections.

Teachers rated "effective" and "highly effective" will receive a pre-evaluation conference and two observations by their principals every school year.

Teachers rated "ineffective" and "minimally effective" will receive a pre-evaluation conference and three observations by their principals every school year.

In addition to the classroom observations, principals will review a teacher's work portfolio, which may include photos and video, classroom policies and procedures, certificates, transcripts, student data, reports, journals, examples of student work, newsletters and other documents.

Principals also will review teachers' self-assessments, such as a questionnaire, teaching journal or classroom video. Teachers will reflect on how effective their teaching methods are and what goals they have set for students.

It is still unknown how much it will cost to review thousands of teachers across the state. Principals also will have to be trained on how to evaluate teachers to ensure consistency across the state.

A separate set of evaluations will be developed for teachers in nontested subjects, such as art and physical education. In time, this evaluation system may be used to give bonuses to high-performing educators to incentivize good teaching.

State lawmakers also increased the probationary period for new teachers from one year to three years before they can gain tenure. At any time during the three years, ineffective teachers may be removed.

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  1. LACK of leadership. We have to wait for the Legislature to make it law.... For the $Billions we dump into K-12 each year, you'd think they could figure out the basics of teaching the 3R's and the basics of operating schools.

  2. Lets see...being evaluated for test results. I can see some potential. This could make teachers change or modify their teaching techniques in hopes of a better outcome (higher test scores). But wait, there are factors to consider to ensure teachers are not being unfairly evaluated. Factors that are out of the teacher's control.

    Lets see...
    Students missing school has a profound impact on their ability to learn and retain information. Therefore, missing more than 10 school days (excused absences included) should warrant that student's scores not be included in test results.

    Teachers have students in class for 50 minutes. Assign homework to reinforce what was taught in class. The other 23 hours and 10 minutes the student is out of their control. During this perod the student should find time to accomplish homework (means work done at home - falls under the responsibility of parent/guardian). Therefore, not doing homework (parent responsibility) means not practicing material covered in class, means student unprepared for tests. Missed assignments are easily tracked and they too should be weighed.

    Behavior problems that warrant a trip to Dean (sleeping in class, acting out, etc...). Student techniques to get out of class. Means another missed class, which falls under absence. These students don't have a desire to learn and should be excluded mostly.

    So excluding these factors, I think it would be fair to use test results as an evaluation tool.

    Lastly, any parent that ignores email, snail mail, voice mail, or parentlink messages concerning the status of their kid, but shows up May 15th to ask what Junior can do to pass should be FINED, ordered to attend parenting class, ordered to attend summer school with their kid, but most importantly, sterilized.