New evaluation procedures mandated by the Iowa Department of Education will be implemented for beginning teachers in the Storm Lake public school district this spring, a move designed to improve teacher quality by establishing a set of criteria new educators must meet in order to be recommended for a standard license by administrators.
Second-year teachers in the Storm Lake system and in other public school districts across the state will undergo an extensive review based on eight major performance standards and 42 sub-categories that include displaying competence in planning and preparing for instruction, showing good class management skills and demonstrating an ability to enhance student achievement.
Beginning elementary and secondary teachers alike will be asked to keep reflections concerning their work regarding staff development issues, provide analysis as to why students may be deficient in a certain area and state what instructional techniques they can use in order to improve the performances of those students in that particular subject.
The new guidelines will be similar to a seven-step evaluation process district administrators have used for many years, but Storm Lake High School principal Mike Hanna said new teachers will be involved more heavily in the evaluation process.
"The thing that will be different is that the teacher will be more of a partner in this process," Hanna said. "There will be more of a collaborative effort between administrators and teachers in this, and there will be more responsibility put on the teacher to present reflections on some of the work they do."
Storm Lake Middle School principal Ron Bryan said teachers would likely see an increased workload as a result of the responsibilities placed on them by the new standards.
"The real difference is that the building principal now has to see evidence that the teacher has addressed all 42 points of criteria," Storm Lake Middle School principal Ron Bryan said. "The teachers will have to keep a portfolio of sorts for this. That will be a big difference for the teacher, because it will mean more work for them."
Despite the increased workload for both administrators and teachers, Hanna said one of the biggest advantages of the new process is that it will help him and other administrators gain a better picture of teachers outstde of the classroom.
"In the past a lot of evaluation had been based on a principal going into a room and observing a teacher for so many periods," Hanna said. "As an administrator, you can learn a lot about classroom control and atmosphere and organization from doing that, but you can't assess the decision-making process of a teacher outside the classroom very well. These new evaluations will be able to help us do that better."
Hanna said the ability to evaluate the outside-of-classroom skills of teachers would help young educators gain a better insight on how best to teach their subjects to students now and in the future.
"Hopefully it helps teachers understand it's not just what they do in the classroom on a daily basis, but it's being able to answer the questions of what material they should teach, how best to deliver that material to students and why they are teaching that material," Hanna said. "Those are tougher questions to answer, but those are questions that good teachers have answered for a number of years."
IDOE officials have not yet determined whether to mandate the new guidelines for experienced teachers in public school districts as well.