CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Educators across West Virginia are going to spend the summer preparing for a new method of evaluating teachers.
State lawmakers established the method last year when they singled out an education evaluation pilot project for widespread adoption. When the new system is put into place statewide this fall, it will mean that all teachers, even longtime educators, will be evaluated annually.
The pilot was initiated two years ago with 25 schools and then tweaked and expanded to 136 schools last year. Now it's being expanded to all the state's schools - a massive overhaul of the procedures used to evaluate educators.
Emily Papadopoulos, director of professional programs at the West Virginia Center for Professional Development, described the new system as an effort to create a "feedback loop" between educators.
The new evaluation system provides for a number of observations and conferences between teachers and principals; it also uses data and standardized test scores to gauge student achievement and, by proxy, teachers' effectiveness.
"There are some great outcomes that come from the process," Papadopoulos said. "But what we hope comes from it is really improvement to teachers and therefore to students."
Principals are in charge of performing the evaluations. For their training, all of the state's principals are flocking to a dozen professional development sessions being held throughout the state.
They're learning how to navigate an involved evaluation system, complete with a technological component, but the new system also deals with a common foil of education reform - the question of how to standardize things as objective as teachers' effectiveness.
The evaluation system's emphasis is on conversations between teachers and principals, with data given some weight to add an objective measure.