Some Alpine School District teachers are upset with a school board decision to veto a career ladder committee proposal that instructors believed would alleviate much of the classroom disruption caused by teacher evaluations.
The career ladder committee, made up of administrators, parents, teachers and PTA representatives, approved in June an alteration in the performance bonus program that would have reduced peer evaluations from a yearly event to once every three or four years, but the board rejected the idea and will vote on its version of the program at its next board meeting, Aug. 9.Ardy Greening, a member of the career ladder committee and former Alpine Education Association president, said the bonus performance program, which began last year, gives teachers a good opportunity to earn extra money for excellent work, but the way it was run disrupted students' learning.
"Last year it was like massive musical chairs. The evaluations have been somewhat disruptive, and the changes the board made in our proposal are not mitigating the problems the administrators have with these evaluations," Greening said. "It's still going to cause disruption for the classroom, the peer evaluator and the person being evaluated. We felt that what we had worked out was in the best interests of the teachers and in the best interests of the peer evaluators."
The career ladder committee had proposed that teachers who want to be considered for performance bonuses should not be required to undergo yearly administrator evaluations, self-evaluations and two peer evaluations, because the process took too many teachers out of the classroom to evaluate their peers and created too many disturbances in the classrooms of teachers being reviewed.
Committee members suggested the evaluations take place once every three or four years. Alpine School Board members decided to keep the yearly evaluations in place but reduce the number of peer evaluations from two to one a year.
Board President Jan Lewis said the evaluations won't be so disruptive this year, because the program has been running for a while. It was mandated by the Legislature last year and was begun in Alpine in February. The process will begin in October this year, so teachers can spread their evaluating over a larger block of time.
"We really feel like there should be peer evaluators every year to maintain the validity and the integrity of the program," Lewis said. "It's really to say, `How are you as a teacher?' It took so much time last year to put that whole program together that we didn't get started until late enough that it had to be hurried."
The evaluations have some benefits too, she said. For instance, The teachers who are reviewing their peers' performances get good ideas about how to improve their own teaching skills.
Superintendent Steven Baugh until last month was American Fork High School principal, where he spent much of his time evaluating teachers.
"I'm concerned with the time (the evaluations) require a principal to be involved, but at the same time I recognize the classroom is a wonderful place for our principals to be," he said. "I think the disruption in the classroom is minimal. Students will get used to having other teachers and administrators in the classroom, so it won't be so distracting"
About 150 teachers will evaluate the classroom performances of those who apply to the program, and the evaluators should be away from their students only two days this year, Baugh said.
Teachers who get a positive rating from the evaluators could have $250 to $650 added to their annual salary, depending on how highly they are rated and how many other teachers qualify.