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Pelham - Windham News November 5, 2010 - 3

School Board Considers ‘How to Do It Better’ by Barbara O’Brien Amanda Lacaroz, the newest of the two assistant superintendents

for SAU #28, says that administrators for the Windham School District are in the process of determining “how to do it better” when it comes to supervising the instructional staff at the four schools which comprise that district.

Lacaroz took on the duties of assistant superintendent this past

July 1. She joins Assistant Superintendent Roxanne Wilson, who has already been employed by the SAU #28 for several years. SAU #28 includes both the Windham and Pelham School Districts. One of Lacaroz’s initial duties was to come up with a more efficient way to observe and evaluate those who teach the children of Windham. Lacaroz presented her initial findings during a recent School Board workshop. The existing policy was last revised in November 1999.

Classroom visits are for several purposes, Lacaroz said, explaining that their intent is to encourage the growth and exchange of new ideas in teaching techniques and use of materials; to discover ways and means of coordinating the curriculum; to observe pupil conduct and pupil progress; to keep the administration informed about what is going on in the school program; and to evaluate teaching effectiveness, particularly as a basis for recommendation for the reappointment of teachers (those who are still in their probationary period).

As a follow-up for these classroom visitations, conferences are held between the administrator (supervisor) and the classroom teacher. Some of these conferences are “formal” and result in a written record. Other more informal conferences are also conducted, and are summarized in the written record of the formal conference. Both teachers and administrators sign these records, and a copy of the report is supposed to be retained by both. According to Lacaroz, the proposed plan is to increase the number of annual classroom visits, beginning in the near future. “We need to do this on a regular basis,” she said. “The goal, here, is to make every teacher in Windham successful.” If School Board members adopt the proposal, teachers will be

rated on a scale of 1 to 4. Receiving a score of “1” would be considered “unsatisfactory” and that teacher would be “put on an

improvement plan” to rectify any deficiencies. Those who receive a “2” would also be counseled on how best to increase their efficiency and/or expertise in the classroom. “We are looking for scores of 3 and 4,” Lacaroz told School Board members. A score of “3” or “4” is considered to be “proficient.” Should the School Board ultimately give its approval to the proposed plan, unscheduled walkthroughs and the documentation of those unanticipated visits would begin this coming January. Lacaroz said such visits are a teacher contract issue. The “four-tiered” growth model (ratings of 1 to 4), which does not yet exist, would also begin during the current school year (2010-2011). When asked “what do we do to move 1s and 2s to 3s and 4s, Lacaroz said the proposal includes a “formalized mentoring instruction program” for new administrators within the Windham School District. “If people [instructional staff] are struggling, we want to work with them to facilitate improvement,” School Board member Jeff Bostic said. “If they are doing an excellent job, we want to reward them.” On the other hand, he added, “If someone can’t hack it, they need to move on.” As for mentoring staff improvement, he said, “We need to do those things that will move the needle [forward].” The parameters that would be included in the four-tiered

evaluation process include planning and preparation, classroom environment and management, actual student instruction, as well as exhibiting professional responsibility. Another question that was raised during the meeting was whether or not to use written student evaluations (upper grade levels) as part of the data used to determine a teacher’s success rate. While some discussion did take place on this question, no specific recommendation was made. After all, “student achievement is the bottom line,” School Board Chairman Bruce Anderson commented. School Board member John Hollinger said he is opposed to

teaching staff receiving a pay increase every year, while only being formally evaluated every three years. Lacaroz told Hollinger that there’s not enough time for administrators to do so many teacher evaluations on an annual basis. “We won’t be doing anything but observations,” Lacaroz claimed, saying that administrators would have to do three to four observations every day of the school week in order to achieve this annual goal.

Annual Scouting for Food Collection

submitted by Kimber Leuteritz Despite it being a cool day, the sun was out and

there was a warm feeling for the Windham Cub Scouts of Pack 266 for the good deed they were helping to do. It was the first time that Joey Hoag, Graham Adolt, and many others participated in the Scouting for Food collection community service program. The boys had a great time together stopping at each of the mailboxes on their map, picking up bag after bag of canned food left out generously by the families to help restock the Shepard’s Food Pantry. This is one of the most common community service programs the Cub Scouts participate in every year, thanks to the hard work of Jeanne Skene and many others.

Joey Hoag and Graham Adolt The every-three-years evaluation only applies to teachers who

have already received tenure with the school district. Teachers who have not yet been tenured are evaluated annually for the first three years of their employment. As the new Windham High School has only been open since September 2009, most of the teachers at that facility are not yet eligible for tenure. School Board members did unanimously (5-0) approve a waiver from the existing evaluation policy for the current school year only. For the 2010-2011 school year only, administrators will be permitted to do only two formal observations (rather than the required three formal reviews) and two to three unannounced walkthroughs. If there is a problem with a particular teacher, however, three formal observations will be conducted. After reviewing the proposed policy changes, Chairman Anderson said, “I’m not getting a warm fuzzy about this process.” Vice Chairman Ed Gallagher said he wants “performance metrics on all teachers by January [2011].” “We want specifics,” Bostic added. Traditionally, these reports are provided annually sometime in March. “March is too late,” Gallagher told Lacaroz, as contracts for the following year are generally signed that time of the year. School Board members will continue to review the proposed instructional staff evaluation policy during upcoming meetings.

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