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9.27.13

VIEWPOINT

district implements new system

improving professional practice BIG DAY

Becca Risley

EVERY DAY

Procrastination is the number one quality on my resume. When procrastinating, I suddenly become this strange, ultra-high-functioning human that never stops moving. While preparing for something big; a trip, a performance, a family reunion, approximately one million completely unrelated tasks will get done. One. Million. By 5 o’clock Saturday afternoon, I had cleaned out my closet, mopped my floor, gone to the grocery store, cleaned my car...again, stopped by the bank, run to Target for some mascara and read a chapter of a book. All of that happened because, really, I needed to study. I needed to stare at a bunch of notes and commit them to memory. It’s not a hard thing and it was the one and only thing that needed to happen over the weekend. It’s also why I wrote a blog and removed my fingernail polish and baked brownies. Seriously. Car, clean. Laundry, done. And when the next week ends, I’ll parade around my friends like a manic puppy, eyes wide, tail wagging, panting, “Is there anything I can do for you?” In retrospect, procrastinating over homework and studying probably isn’t the best idea. Scholarship deadlines, graduation requirements and final decisions loom, making avoiding simple homework tasks all the more pathetic. Decisions won’t make themselves. College, career, future...better get started. First thing on the list - Register for the October ACT. Brownies, anyone?

“Whether it’s kindergarten or AP Psychology, the goal is to improve professional practice. I think we’ll do that,” Fort Smith Schools superintendent Dr. Benny Gooden said.

As part of the state mandated plan implemented in July 2011, the State Department of Education issued a training and evaluation schedule for principals to accurately assess the performance of teachers. Teacher Excellence Support System (TESS), designed to improve professional practice, subsequently identifies weak areas of teaching to create a better result. Those two things are in conflict; once administration identifies an inadequate teacher, it’s a long jump from there to the termination process. The legislature did nothing to the statutes that cover termination of teaching personnel. Firing teachers does not ensure greatness. The goal enacts an increase in school performance across the board by improving the day to day work of teachers, administrators and students. One of the things the statute requires is the consideration of student performance and consequently standardized test scores. Assessing an advanced placement teacher remains different from assessing a regular classroom teacher. Advanced students typically score higher, reflecting highly on the teacher in question. Regular

students, on the other hand, tend to score at the proficient or basic level. Teachers deserve the same positive recognition, whether they help students maintain academic greatness or advance a group of struggling individuals. Each teacher, over the course of three years, is subject to the four domains of a successful teacher. These include Planning and Preparation, Classroom Environment, Instructional Process and Professional Responsibility. The problem with this system is that it is very complex if principals and administrators execute it with the integrity and depth the state seems to anticipate. Another problem is the lack of standardized tests for certain areas of study. Choral and music education classes were previously evaluated based on contest results but, the statute prohibits using that as an accurate assessment. Almost every state implemented similar criteria, with teachers remaining apprehensive; they really just don’t want to get fired. Those teachers should take comfort in the fact that the goal of TESS is not to rid the schools of inferior teachers but to improve the individual’s practice in all areas.

What do you think about the new teacher evaluation system? “TESS is a new method of evaluating teachers. It will be time consuming,” principal Wayne Haver said.

SOUTHWORLD

staff

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“I think it has the potential to produce positive results that will benefit all students and teachers,” English teacher Karen Davis said.

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“I’m usually really quiet in class and now I can’t be. The new teacher evaluation system gives students more opportunities to talk in class rather than just being quiet,” senior Leah Haynor said.

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