- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Over the last several years, St. Mary’s County public schools have been lauded for exceptional levels of student learning and extraordinary educators. Both our students and teachers have been recognized on the state and the national stage, representing the accomplishments they have earned in a supportive and growth-oriented culture. I am so proud of what is occurring here, and optimistic of what is yet to come.
We are in a period of reform as our curriculum shifts to the Common Core State Standards. These standards reflect a new level of rigor and higher expectations. As we are transitioning away from the outgoing standards of the Maryland School Assessments, we welcome these incoming standards and the accountability for student learning that accompanies them.
During the past two years, we have worked collaboratively with our teachers’ and administrators’ associations to develop an evaluation system that includes the evidence of student learning as a full 50 percent of a teacher’s or principal’s evaluation. This model includes multiple measures including state assessments, local benchmark assessments, performance assessments and ongoing measures of student growth. It is a balanced model of assessment that is not over-reliant upon any single test.
Recently, the Maryland State Department of Education rejected our locally developed model along with the models of eight other counties in the state, compelling us and others to include the MSA as 20 percent of a teacher’s and principal’s evaluation. As our teachers are dutifully making the transition to a new set of standards, holding them overly accountable to an outgoing curriculum and related assessment seems fruitless. The data gleaned would likely present a false measure of student growth, and would stifle the transition to the Common Core. Ultimately, we believe that the mandate of 20 percent MSA as part of student growth is simply an arbitrary requirement that will not adequately represent teacher effectiveness.
In St. Mary’s County public schools, we are fortunate to have great teachers and leaders. We believe that our mutually agreed upon performance evaluation criteria represents a fair and comprehensive approach to holding high standards for teaching and learning. As we move forward with higher standards, it does not make sense to hold teachers and principals accountable for assessments of a curriculum they are no longer teaching, and we are hopeful that state policy makers will consider these factors to approve our model.
Michael J. Martirano, Leonardtown
The writer is superintendent of St. Mary’s County public schools.