GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Opinion

December 12, 2012

My View: Children can evaluate schools, too

Education should not be a “top-down” business.

By this I mean that, whenever possible, we want students to be actively involved in the classroom, not just listening to the teacher. We want them discussing issues and problems with their peers, and directing their learning wherever possible.

The best teaching not only imparts information, but places the burden of responsibility for understanding what that information means squarely in the laps of students. The earlier that is done in a student’s career, the better. That way, good habits are formed as early as possible.

The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education clearly accepts this notion and plans on capitalizing on what students know and understand about good teaching. Beginning in 2013-14, students will rate their teachers and those ratings will count as evidence in the overall assessment that is the new, state-mandated teacher evaluation system. But, first let me back up a bit.

By the end of this school year, the Gloucester Public School District will have done the following with respect to the new evaluation process:

Collaboratively agreed upon a memorandum of agreement with the Gloucester Teachers Association for the 2012-13 school year.

Provided an annual, required orientation for educators on the new system.

Conducted a multi-phased professional development plan necessary for rolling out the system (for both educators and administrators).

Identified which teachers will be evaluated beginning this year and which teachers will begin their “cycle” next year.

Implemented a software system that organizes the evaluation process (many examples of professional practice or “artifacts of evidence” practice will need to be collected and placed in some form of organizer; this can be done electronically).

Implemented the evaluation system using the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Model Contract Language (along with slight modifications agreed upon with the Gloucester Teachers Association).

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