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Teachers, principals get high marks

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Performance reports for Colorado teachers and principals released to the public for the first time show the majority of educators in Delta County received evaluation ratings of "effective" or higher.

A total of 88 percent of Colorado teachers and 98 percent in Delta County -- received an overall rating of "effective" or "highly effective" according to the metrics released by the Colorado Department of Education.

The release of the data is mandated by a 2010 state law called the Great Teachers and Leaders Act, SB10-191, which requires every Colorado teacher and principal be evaluated every year with specific data points. The data being released today is from the 2014-15 school year. (The lag in reporting is due to the timeframe in which districts submit ratings to CDE.)

"The purpose of the Great Teachers and Leaders Act was to support our teachers and leaders in improving their practice through regular, meaningful feedback," said Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes. "These metrics act as a tool to help educators and principals understand where they can improve, but even more important than the ratings are the meaningful conversations that are taking place during evaluations to help lift up our teachers and principals so that all students can achieve their academic potential."

The metrics are not intended to be used to compare districts, as local educator evaluation systems vary across the state.

Caryn Gibson, superintendent of Delta County Joint School District #50, does the principal evaluations, and the principal evaluates every teacher in his or her school. The school year begins with goal-setting, followed by classroom observations and multiple walk-throughs throughout the school year.

"It's kind of a daunting process," she said, "and it can be quite time-consuming, but if done right I believe it grows teachers and gives them a little more support."

The goal is to help teachers and principals continually improve their instructional and leadership practices, Gibson stressed. "It's not a 'gotcha,' " she said. "We want our teachers and principals to be the best they can be for the students."

Fifty percent of an educator's evaluation is based on professional practices; the other 50 percent is based on multiple measures of student learning, including state assessments.

The publicly reported metrics reveal only how teachers and principals are doing as a group at the school, district and state level. Protections are in place to ensure educator privacy.

"Superintendents wanted CDE to be very cautious about the confidentiality of personnel information, but each teacher has seen their own personal results," Gibson explained. Teachers who disagree with the evaluation rating may appeal the principal's decision; the same due process is available to principals who disagree with Gibson's assessment.

The accompanying graph shows the percentage of teachers rated "effective" and "highly effective" for novice (novice (first, second, and third year), experienced (four or more years) teachers, and all teachers.

Delta County showed no teachers in the other two rating areas of "partially effective" and "ineffective."

School results can be viewed on the CDE website.

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