Knox County Schools Superintendent, Dr. Jim McIntyre, answered questions about the new state teacher evaluations and announced some early results about Knox County teachers at a town hall meeting on Tuesday evening.
McIntyre told the small crowd gathered in the auditorium at Bearden High School that 600 Knox County teachers have started the evaluation process. As of November 8, 2011, 50% of them have earned a "3" grade. Teachers are graded on a scale of one to five; one is lowest, five is highest. He said those early numbers are average and in line with state expectations. For comparison, 22% of teachers earned a "4", 7.5% earned a "5", 21% earned a "2", and .4% earned a "1". Newer teachers have to earn "4's" and "5's" to eventually earn tenure.
"I think there needs to be some staff development on it so we can see a four or a five teacher. Show us photos. Show us videos of what a four or a five teacher looks like," said Sherry Morgan, President of the Knox County Education Association and a long-time Knox County teacher.
McIntyre said the evaluations are designed to promote growth and support teachers in those efforts. He also said the district will provide teachers with other forms of support to earn higher evaluation grades, "Specific workshops and seminars on some of the instructional strategies that are supported by the evaluation system."
McIntyre also spent an hour and a half answering questions from teachers about the new evaluations. Classroom observations account for 50% of the review, growth accounts for 35%, and student achievement makes up the last 15%.
"The State Board of Education voted on November 4th to allow the consolidation of two classroom observations within the evaluation system. I thought it was a really great change," said Dr. McIntyre.
This is welcome news to many teachers, such as Nancey Reed, who think the evaluation process, as it was initially put in place, is too time consuming.
"The day-to-day business of running the school, to me, was starting to possibly get neglected," explained Reed.
Dozens of teachers have called the school district and the teacher's union to voice concerns about the process. Initially, teachers with three or more years of employment were required to undergo four evaluations during the year. Newer teachers were required to undergo six evaluations.
Reed said consolidating some of those will help, but thinks teachers and administrators will still be spending too much time away from their regular responsibilities. She's willing, however, to wait out the process.
"It felt good for me to know, yes, he doesn't believe it's perfect yet," said Reed.
"This is gonna help us get better at what we do. It's not meant to be punitive. It's meant to be developmental and help teachers grow," explained Dr. McIntyre.
Tuesday night's town hall meeting was the fourth forum the school district has hosted this year about the new evaluation system. They plan to hold more discussions as the state works out kinks in evaluation system.
Dr. McIntyre said the state could still decide to use this year as a trial. However, he said that is unlikely.