Monday, February 14, 2011

MVRCS Evaluations - Every Wonder....? Wonder No More!

As a parent have you ever wondered what and how the teachers of MVRCS are evaluated? We've been able to obtain a copy of the evaluation form the school uses to assess the teacher and staff performance. We found a number of their objectives to be interesting and thought provoking. Our biggest concern is that while the issue of handling behavioral students is mentioned (c. Individual student behavior management plans are implemented correctly), nowhere is it mentioned about teachers correctly implementing IEP goals and objectives or working/communicating with the Special Education staff concerning students with learning disabilities. To us, this shows how little thought and importance students with learning disabilities are given by the Board and/or Administration. Also note how  nothing is mentioned concerning the well being of students, positive communications with parents, and/or effectiveness with individual students.
We also felt that the lack of focus on any sort of professional responsibilities' (that you would typically see in a school evaluation form) such as understanding their legal and moral responsibilities, ability to convey knowledge of their subject matter, takes initiative both in and out of the classroom, use of professional judgement to ensure success of all students, works actively to involve parents in child's school life, use of resources to ensure student success both in and out of classroom, overall well being of students. No mention of knowledge (even general) about Special Ed issue knowledge or No Child Left Behind knowledge. The list could go on but so much is missing and too much focus is given to the success of the school rather than to ensure the success of the students.
Our comments are in red.

1.       Student Achievement & Instructional Implementation (35%)
a.       Students attain targets for lesson progress and mastery test scores (generally, student scores are within the allowable range unless there are relevant extenuating circumstances).
      The reason most 'student scores are within the allowable range) is because the students are grouped according to ability level. The unfortunate aspect is that if a 5th grader is working at a 3rd grade level, they will be placed within a group of similar students. The students will, for the most part, achieve passing or acceptable grades. The issue is that not only are they NOT working at grade level but parents are given the false impression that their child is doing well in school. MVRCS has been known to retain these students for failing to achieve a passing score on MCAS even when the child has earned A's and B's throughout the year. Of course part of this is systematic elimination.
b.      Students’ scores improve on independent standardized tests and other independent assessments.
c.       Students achieve targeted performance in other subjects on available measures.
d.      Individual faculty member implements all curricula (e.g. attaining 90% correct student responses, demonstrating strong lesson presentation skills, using appropriate correction procedures, monitoring of students’ independent work in class, ,and using of appropriate signals).
e.      Individual faculty member effectively implements other curricula, assessments, parent progress reports, and report cards developed, or selected, by the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School, and appropriately assigns homework and corrects papers.
      Within this category it seems as though too much focus is given to testing and assessment rather than ensuring that students learn (not always the same thing). This reminds us of the situation with the Robert Hughes Charter School where the teachers were instructed to coach or guide students during MCAS testing to ensure high scores for the school. 
2.       Promotion of Positive School Image (10%)
a.       Individual faculty member contributes to a measure impact on enrollment (e.g. increased enrollment is linked to parent satisfaction with individual faculty member, or conversely, word-of-mouth, and/or independent marketing student attrition is caused by dissatisfaction with the individual faculty member)
      This doesn't even seem as though it should fall within a teachers evaluation. The focus should be on the students, NOT the school. If they are so concerned about student attrition then why are they not concerned with the dissatisfaction of many special education (or diverse learners) students who leave as a result of a less than impressive Special Education Department and the leadership of that department. We wonder how Kathy Kinnon scores within this category.
3.       Classroom/Behavior Management (20%)
a.       Faculty member demonstrates the effective use of time, smooth transitions between activities, effective room arrangements, appropriate movement, clear expectations for student conduct, a greater frequency of praising students to correcting them, use of the School’s character curriculum vocabulary, effective and appropriate use of reward systems, proper referrals to the School Director’s office, and fairness and consistency in recognizing negative behavior and imposing consequences/restitution.
      Our course fairness and consistency in recognziing negative behavior and imposing consequences/restitution for those un-Kinnected students.
b.      Students demonstrate instructional/task focus and appropriate character virtues in the classroom, as well as appropriate conduct in the halls, restrooms, play areas, and other non-classroom environments.
c.       Individual student behavior management plans are implemented correctly. 
      Again, no mention of IEP's for learning disabilities. This is very alarming to us. 
4.       Performance of Duties (15%)
a.       Individual faculty member faithfully, diligently, and effectively implements the policies and procedures of the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School, demonstrating a strong work ethic and a positive attitude. The individual is punctual and meets other basic organizational expectations, including organizing student extracurricular activities and fulfilling such assigned duties as morning monitoring, dismissal monitoring, bus monitoring, and recess monitoring.
5.       Interpersonal Skills (10%)
a.       Individual faculty member works well with other School staff, contributes to the development of a collegial work culture, participates in informal professional development discussions, shares expertise with colleagues, and participates in team planning meetings.
      As long as it doesn't touch upon any of the topics covered in the next category, 'Professionalism'. 
6.       Professionalism (10%)
a.       Individual faculty member shows an understanding of professional behavior in the areas listed below:
                                                               i.      Communication with the Leadership Team. The individual faculty member directs communication about a conflict, issue, concern, or problem to the members of the Leadership Team of the Lead Teacher. The individual faculty member does not discuss any of the above with colleagues that are not directly involved with the issue in question. The individual faculty member does not discuss any of the above issues with parents. 
                                    It continues to amaze us that staff members are not permitted to discuss any 'conflicts, issues, concerns, or problems' with student's to their parents. Why is so much focus paid to these types of issues? How does this impact the learning of the students?
                                                             ii.      Discussion of Salary, Performance Based Raises or any other Compensation. The individual faculty member directs any and all communication concerning any of the topics listed above with the members of the Leadership Team. The individual faculty member does not, under any circumstances, discuss any issues related to compensation with other members of the faculty, staff, or parents.  
                                    Again, they will be terminated if it is discovered that a discussion was had. We do know that they talk about such things but no one ever dares admit to it out of fear of being terminated. We heard of one 'Kinnected' individual who scored originally well below 60 in their initial evaluation yet over the years slowly improved 2 points per year but is still under the acceptable mark. YET IS STILL EMPLOYED THERE!
                                                            iii.    Discussion of Confidential Information regarding students. The individual faculty member directs communication of confidential information regarding students to members of the Leadership or Education Teams. The individual faculty member does not discuss confidential information regarding students with other members of the faculty, staff or parents.  
                                    One staff member has told us that although this should be common practice, it is not. Also, the reason this is included is not for the protection of the students but rather to limit teachers coming to similar conclusions and joining forces when issues arise regarding students.


  1. So typical that they focus the evaluations on the success of the school rather than the success of students. Nothing about seeks assistance as needed/if needed. If teachers go to Administration for assistance with a child or issue, they see it as a weakness, that the teacher isn't capable of handling it on their own. In other schools, principals usually encourage teachers to seek assistance as needed, especially if in best interest of child. Sometimes I wonder why I send my child to this school!

  2. Contrast this detailed and coherent six-point teacher evaluation guidance to the public school alternative that bases teacher evaluation on (essentially) seniority and student test scores.

    Charlie Rose interviewed Bill Gates last week and they touched on the topic of education. Gates made an excellent point - he said if you teach for ten years you make more money. If you teach 15 years you make even more money. We don't have many things in society like this. Like if somebody mows your lawn and when it comes time to pay them would you say "how long have you been mowing lawns? Oh, I'd like to pay you double because you've been mowing lawns for a long time." It's usually based on whether they do a good job mowing the lawn.

    If you get a chance, check out the interview at

  3. Jeff -
    1.Really liked the reference to Bill Gates interview. Most jobs do increase in pay as you become more experienced. Yes, some positions or companies have pay caps and teachers are no different. The difference is that because teachers are constantly required to continuing taking courses in their field, they are paid for that. Teaching isn't really comparable to mowing lawns. Experience and/or access to experienced teachers is crucial to new teachers.
    2.Teachers in the public schools are not evaluated simply on seniority and student test scores. Most have a very thorough evaluation process (will try to get one to post as a comparison). Teachers in the public schools are paid based on their education and then they MUST continue to earn educational credits to increase their pay substantially. So a teacher with a BA is paid less than a teacher with a Masters (same as in most jobs). But in between and after they have many 'steps' they can climb by taking Professional Development courses to better themselves and skills within the classroom. Teachers also have to obtain their Master's within 5 years of teaching. Not many positions require that. Most positions and/or companies do reward employees for advanced educational degrees.
    3. The problem we find with this 'detailed and coherent...evaluation' is that very little of it is based on the teachers effectiveness in the classroom or even on the students.

  4. Jeff -
    Re-read the comment regarding mowing lawns and misunderstood it initially. You are correct, teachers should not be paid simply because they have obtained 'Professional Status' and are protected by the Unions. We agree, the 'bad apples' that you are referring to (who are paid simply for their experience and are protected by the union when performance is less than satisfactory) should not be allowed to continue and/or be protected. We are not big fans of union in the schools. Just FYI, it is not (or should not) be an easy accomplishment for a teacher to obtain tenure or professional status within public schools. The process can be tough and is at the very least 3 years of proven, effective teaching.

  5. 3 Years and your in for life. Oh my God how unbelievably tough. And how many paper mills roll out those Masters Degrees in Teaching? Good teachers should be rewarded and good teachers who teach in fields with high demand but low supply should make lots more just like in the real world. Jeff is right on. And if the school is successful most of those in the school are being successful its not just about the individual. Public Schools tough reviews? How many times a year and they mean nothing once you are tenured. 10 years with x degree and you earn y salary period. Regular Public ed in america is socialism and that is why its mediocre. Its about teachers jobs not delivering a good product to the customers. MVRCS has it right unfortunately cant pay more cause it has to pay for all its buildings etc.

  6. The fact of matter is, government is NOT like the real world, and things like tenure help protect teachers from being subjected to influences other than their performance....see the recent scandal in the probation department. I'm not a huge union fan, but its almost a necessity in government given how everyone is related or knows everyone.