Newton Public Schools adopts new evaluation tool

The Newtonite

by Samantha Libraty

This year, the Newton Public Schools adopted a new evaluation tool called the Educator Evaluation Tool, which aims to improve teaching at this school through more thorough faculty evaluations, according to science department head Amy Winston.

Among other things, the Educator Evaluation Tool mandates that evaluators visit classes for 10 minutes at more frequent intervals than they did last year, Winston said.

The new system uses a rubric with detailed descriptions to evaluate teacher, whereas “the old system included a checklist which scored teachers by never, sometimes or consistently doing a task,” Winston said.

Also, while the old system had a four-year cycle for professional status evaluations, the new one has a two-year cycle.

According to Winston, “This new system emphasizes the importance of the conversation between teacher and evaluator. Educators and evaluators should be in continuous conversation focused on growth, teaching and learning throughout the year.”

In the near future, student achievement on testing will be included in a teacher’s evaluation, she said.

According to Cindy Bergan, assistant superintendent of secondary education and special programs, student feedback will possibly be added to the evaluation as well. “We don’t yet know what the student input will look like as we have not yet received guidance from the State,” she said.

The NPS created the new evaluation system after receiving funding from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The NPS accepted the funding before other districts in the state, so it created the Educator Evaluation Tool this school year.

“The state passed regulations for the new evaluation instrument,” according to Winston. “Based on these regulations, the state developed a model for educator evaluation. Districts have been given the opportunity to adopt the state model, adapt the state model or write their own in compliance with the regulations. In Newton, we adapted the state model. The committee edited and revised the model, making sure that it was still consistent with regulations, while also making it work better for Newton,” she said.

Winston and other teachers and administrators from throughout the district have been meeting since March to revise the state-mandated Educator Evaluation Tool. The teachers and administrators from around the district made changes in order for it to comply with the new teacher contract.

“We met for over 100 hours to adapt the state model of the new evaluation tool. The committee was made up of representative of all grade levels and represented the Newton Teachers Association and the Administration of the NPS,” Winston said. “The committee worked collaboratively to accomplish our goals.”