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Waterford - The Board of Education on Thursday learned more about the district's new teacher and administrator evaluation system, which went into effect this school year.
Waterford was named one of 10 pilot school districts chosen by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy this summer to participate in the early phases of the new system for teachers and principals.
In 2013-14, all school systems in the state will be required to adopt the new evaluation system, which is a substantial part of the governor's education reform legislation.
All district administrators and a teacher from each of the town's five schools were trained this summer on the evaluation process, which Superintendent Jerome Belair described Thursday as "intense."
As part of the pilot evaluation process, there are four teacher ratings: exemplary, proficient, developing and below standard.
Belair said that as a pilot district, Waterford is responsible for providing constant and thorough feedback to the state.
"We're not going to be bashful about it, we're going to share what's working and what needs to be improved," he said, adding later, "We're learning as we go. We're one of the few districts in the pilot that is involving teachers the way we are. They've really been with us every step of the way."
The new evaluations are broken down by percentage categories; next year, districts can come up with their own categories or follow the state's model. There are a total of six announced and unannounced observations planned for teachers throughout the year. Principals will receive two observations, while assistant principals will receive four.
Evaluations will take into account such things as student performance on standardized tests; teacher performance observations; and peer or parent feedback.
The evaluations are linked to professional development, and those marked as needing assistance will receive teaching skills training and could be fired if they fail to improve.
Earlier drafts of Malloy's education reform aimed to tie evaluations to teachers' job certifications and also included tougher scoring systems for teachers to achieve and maintain tenure.
The Malloy administration and Democratic lawmakers reached a compromise, and the final version that is now law still grants teachers tenure after they have worked in the same district for four years.
But for the first time, teachers must demonstrate "effective practice" as determined by the new, yearly teacher evaluations.