Ledyard school board approves teacher evaluation plan

Ledyard — The Board of Education on Wednesday night approved its own teacher evaluation plan, which will be rolled out this fall.

The school district’s Teacher Evaluation Committee spent the past year coming up with the plan, which must be submitted to the state by April 15.

Comprising a team of about a dozen teachers and administrators from across the district, the committee worked with a consulting company and Assistant Superintendent Cathy Patterson to write the evaluation guidelines that will replace the ones currently in use in Ledyard.

“(Superintendent Michael Graner) noted that when we came out, everyone looked exhausted,” Patterson said.

“Several times,” Graner replied. “Every time.”

Board members generally agreed that the plan will help to improve teaching practices and student learning, but emphasized that it is a “living, breathing” plan that can be changed and reassessed.

After the State Board of Education adopted the guidelines for its System for Educator Evaluation and Development last June, officials gave Connecticut school districts the choice of adopting the state’s SEED model or submitting a hybrid of the state model and their own school district-developed plan that follows SEED guidelines.

Ten school districts across the state, including Waterford, piloted the SEED program this past school year. The new teacher evaluation plans will be implemented statewide this fall.

According to the SEED model’s evaluation metrics, 40 percent of teachers’ evaluation will come from observation of their practice; 45 percent from data on student performance on either standardized tests or some other measure of achievement; 10 percent from a whole-school evaluation; and the final 5 percent on either parent or student surveys.

Ledyard’s hybrid model will adhere to these metrics, but just one-third of teachers in Ledyard will be evaluated in the beginning, as opposed to those districts that adopt the SEED plan wholesale, in which all teachers will be evaluated in the baseline year.

Graner said in an interview that all non-tenured teachers will be evaluated next school year, and officials will seek teacher volunteers to fill up the remainder of the one-third. If not enough come forward, Graner said, a lottery will be held to pick the rest.

Only classroom teachers will be subject to the new evaluation plan at first — no school psychologists or guidance counselors — because measures of achievement for other types of teachers are still being developed by the state and by the district, Graner said.

The major way in which Ledyard’s current teacher evaluation plan differs from the new one, Graner said, is that the new model is tied to student performance.

With the new plan, if a teacher does not perform well enough for two years in a row, he or she would be terminated. If a teacher is given a “below-standard” rating — the lowest out of four possible levels — that teacher would be terminated after one year.

The board will now forward the plan to the state school board, which will determine if it meets SEED guidelines. It will then be returned to Ledyard either for revision or, if approved, immediate implementation.

a.isaacs@theday.com

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