City to pilot new evaluations for all teachers

All 6,000 Baltimore educators will take part this year in testing a new teacher evaluation system that ties their effectiveness more closely to student performance, school officials announced this week. This system, tested in the city last year for 309 teachers, comes as preparation for the state's implementation of more rigorous evaluations next year.

Two areas of the evaluations — both used to measure student performance — will account for 50 percent of a teacher's score: student growth and schoolwide factors called the school index. The remaining three areas, used to measure professional practice, are student surveys, classroom observations, and professional responsibilities, officials said during a presentation to the city school board Tuesday.


Officials said that in these tests, all teachers will be examined in at least one of these areas. But no single area will account for more than 35 percent of a teacher's evaluation, said Jennifer Bell-Ellwanger, chief accountability officer for the city schools. And pay or job security will not be at stake.

"We're going to be very aggressive because we want all of our teachers to experience this before it's high-stakes," said Bell-Ellwanger,


who added that the new system would require budget and staff labor to implement.

The new evaluation is part of the system's alignment with the state's plan to implement more rigorous assessments of educators. Maryland is among several states that won a $250 million Race to the Top grant from the U.S. Department of Education last year based in part on a commitment to pass reforms, including a new teacher evaluation system.

Baltimore City was among seven districts that piloted a new evaluation method last year. All districts will implement it in the 2013-2014 school year.

In the pilot from 2011, teachers were evaluated on professional responsibilities, including noninstructional duties like their work attendance; student surveys; and other measures such as the value-added model, which officials said predicts student achievement on state assessments based on previous test scores and other factors.

In the district-wide pilot this year, teachers will also be evaluated according to the school index, which measures factors such as school climate and attendance.

The evaluation will also include a component called school learning objectives, which are specific, long-term goals for students. The objectives, officials said, would be developed and used to evaluate educators who teach non-tested subjects like foreign languages.

During the Tuesday presentation, city schools CEO Andrés Alonso called the pilots a "huge opportunity for reflection for principals and teachers."

In a joint email and video distributed to teachers Friday, Alonso and Baltimore Teachers Union President Marietta English promised a continued partnership in rolling out the evaluations.


The district is finalizing details of the pilot, and an Educator Support and Evaluation Committee with 15 to 20 teachers and principals will be appointed to provide feedback.

"This is a big year for city schools and especially for our teachers," English assured teachers in the video. "Much work lies ahead, and a lot of changes, but this is work that will elevate and highlight the incredible work our teachers are doing day in and day out."