Regarding the Daily Mail's May 30 editorial, "Education power, micromanaged style," which questioned the state's new method for evaluating teachers:
While the Center for Professional Development in the Department of Education and the Arts is charged with much of the training related to principals and teachers, and training on administering the new evaluation is a part of those duties, the center staff did not create the new evaluation tool.
Given that, staff at the center does note that the state's new method should benefit both students and teachers. It proves to be much more specific, measurable and objective than previous evaluation processes.
An added advantage is the increased emphasis on positive outcomes for students, as the new system measures "growth" of students over the school year rather than only "achievement."
As shared with your reporter, the evaluation rubric specifies that teachers set the student learning goals based on the makeup of their individual student populations. Criteria for the goals include rigor and comparability across classrooms.
Progress toward the learning goals is determined by the principal based on the rubric describing performance and the data provided by the teacher. Eighty percent of a teacher's evaluation is based on his or her performance ratings using the West Virginia Professional Teaching Standards' 14 elements.
That is why training on the new system is so important, since the new evaluation rubrics provide a much more detailed description of the performance of professional educators.
Hopefully, teachers and principals will now have a common vocabulary with which to describe each level of performance. Teachers will have more influence on their evaluations than ever before.
It's important to note that the task force that met for the last two years to provide guidance for this new evaluation is comprised primarily of teachers. Members were careful to give teachers ownership of their goals, placing emphasis on collaboration and student engagement.
Teachers are free to submit evidence that supports their work, and the detailed descriptions of all the performance ratings make expectations clear.
All involved hope it will result in improvements for teachers and students, ultimately strengthening our educational outcomes as a whole.
Goodwin is secretary of the state's Department of Education and the Arts.