AP: Kansas plots new teacher evaluation course

11/27/2012

TOPEKA (AP) — Kansas teachers and administrators are working with state Department of Education to develop an evaluation system to measure their performance.

TOPEKA (AP) — Kansas teachers and administrators are working with state Department of Education to develop an evaluation system to measure their performance.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Kansas Education Evaluation Protocol is a pilot program in place in about two dozen districts.

It is part of the state's efforts to comply with the requirements of a federal waiver it received under the No Child Left Behind Act.

All school districts will have to implement some system of evaluation by the 2014-15 school year. Some may use the KEEP system, while other districts could use programs already in place.

State officials say the next step will be linking the evaluation system with student performance. A commission of teachers and administrators are working on that transition.

Seaman High School principal Ron Vinduska is a member of the evaluation commission. He said test scores aren't always the best indicator that a student is making progress.

"It might be more clear how to do that with a math or reading teacher, but what about art (teachers)?" Vinduska said.

Brian Jordan, director of leadership services at the Kansas Association of School Boards, said the commission is wrestling with questions that no school district or state has definitively resolved.

The commission is looking at several different ways of how to monitor student growth and achievement, said Jordan, who is also with the commission.

Topeka USD 501 is participating in the pilot program. Teresa Songs, a principal at Chase Middle School, must compile a folder that gives a glimpse of what she does to interact with her teachers, including training, emails and lists of topics the students are being taught.

"I think it provides you with a focus," said Songs, who is now in her second year of the pilot program. "For example, am I providing teachers with enough resources and the schedule they need?"

Kansas districts must let the state department know by March which evaluation system they will be using.

Scott Myers, director of teacher education and licensure for the KSDE, said more than 300 educators have been contacted about the system.

"We have to have the approval of the U.S. Department of Education," Myers said. "We'll send them what we think is the Kansas definition (for factoring in student growth), and I'm hopeful they'll say that makes sense."

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