State to answer Montgomery schools’ proposal on evaluations -- Gazette.Net


Montgomery County Public Schools will know by Friday what changes it needs to make to its teacher and principal evaluations next school year.

Maryland’s Superintendent Lillian M. Lowery will meet with local superintendents on Friday to update them on requirements for teacher and principal evaluations, said David Volrath, who leads the teacher/principal evaluation team for the state.

Montgomery teachers, principals, union representatives, and school officials are anxiously awaiting the news.

Across the country, local systems need to make changes to how they evaluate teachers, because new state and federal laws require evaluations to rely more on student performance and growth.

Superintendent Joshua P. Starr has pushed back on making any changes to its Professional Growth System, stating that changes would compromise the integrity of what he calls a proven and nationally recognized formula for student success.

But Montgomery needed to prove to the state that student growth will play significant part in a teacher’s rating, Volrath said.

“If they won’t tie the performance of the teacher back to the performance of the kids, it won’t satisfy requirements of the act,” he said.

Starr submitted a proposal to the state in December that made slight changes to Montgomery’s system.

He said in an interview last week that he believes the school system is now in compliance, and he hopes the state will approve the plan.

“I think [the Professional Growth System] is the bedrock of our work — the foundation of our work in so many ways,” Starr said.

Montgomery and Frederick counties were the only school systems in the state not to sign onto a federal program called Race to the Top, which is paying districts for complying to certain standards.

The program asks districts to base half of their teacher’s evaluation on student growth measures, 20 percent or more of which must be based on state test scores.

The state’s education department told Montgomery in November that even though it did not sign onto the program, it still needed to make changes, some of which were to the cycle of its evaluations, rating system and how student growth is used.

The system still has to comply with other requirements under the state’s Education Reform Act of 2010 and under the state’s waiver for the federal No Child Left Behind, both of which lay out measures for teacher and principal evaluations.

In Starr’s proposal, which was developed in conjunction with school unions, the school system tells the state ways in which student growth measures will be used more uniformly throughout the state, but leaves out specifics about how much those measures will count in a teacher’s rating.

Volrath said he could not say if Montgomery’s plan would be approved, but he said districts need to show that their evaluations are aligned with other new models across the state and the nation — most of which are coming in with about 20 percent based on test scores, Volrath said.