Baltimore teachers union organizes rally to protest evaluation changes

Baltimore city teachers will close out the school year with a rally at the district's central headquarters Monday, where they will protest last-minute changes to the district's teacher evaluation system that stands to hinder teachers' ability to move up in pay.

The issue stems from changes to a scoring system that rates teachers "highly effective," "effective," "developing" or "ineffective." The district said it recently raised the scores -- for example, the score for a "highly effective" under the originally published system was an 80, and is now an 86 -- because student test scores wouldn't be used in evaluating teachers this year.

However, they acknowledged teachers weren't informed of the new scoring system until June 2, the week many began receiving their year-end evaluations. 

The Baltimore Teachers Union filed a class-action grievance, which we wrote about here, saying it did not agree to the new scores. The union planned the rally that is scheduled to take place Monday at 4 p.m.

“We have received phone calls and emails from teachers who are devastated," said Marietta English, president of the Baltimore Teachers Union, in a statement sent by the union. "This is unacceptable!”

Many teachers alleged that their principals had marching orders to limit the amount of highly effective ratings in their schools to save money. The district refuted that claim as "wrong and unfair."

Jimmy Gittings, president of the administrators union, said in a statement that “administrators are in support of teachers in this effort.”

Other teachers said that they received unusually low scores as a result of more subjectivity in the changed evaluation system, given that it relied primarily on classroom observations. 

District officials said the last-minute changes were a result of legislation that wasn't signed until May, and that they were willing to go back to the table with the union to discuss the scores. 

In a statement Friday, district officials continued to defend their position. 

"Based on the evaluation components and the scoring,  the district views this year’s scoring to be quite similar to the previous year," according to a statement from the system. "For  the district and its partner in the work,  the BTU,  the goal  has always been to develop an evaluation system built on a foundation of rigor and fairness. 

"This year,  many changes have impacted the evaluation system. The challenge has been to develop a process that acknowledges the changes but yet remains focused on the center piece of rigor and fairness." 


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