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IT Teachers Set to Face Strict Evaluation Measures

The unofficial theme of the Aug. 24 Island Trees Board of Education meeting was “Teacher Accountability,” as educators in the district this year will be subjected to a new grading system and observation process that will evaluate the effectiveness of their lesson plans.

According to Superintendent Charles Murphy, the domains of an effective lesson plan will be broken down into three categories. “It comes down to instructional performance,” said Murphy. “Also, student/teacher interactions and professional attributes.”

Each domain contains specific elements that will be rated as: Highly Effective, Effective, Developing or Ineffective. The New York State Education Department defines a Highly Effective teacher as one who performs at a higher level than expected based on criteria. Teachers at this level are master teachers and make a contribution to the field, both in and out of their school.

On the other hand, they define a Developing teacher as one who does not perform at an expected level based on the criteria and an Ineffective teacher as one whose performance is unacceptable. Teachers will be observed twice a year by the principals at their respective schools, and a lengthy annual evaluation report will be filled out for each teacher. The formal observation report will include a critique of the lesson observed, and suggestions for the improvement of instruction. After the observation has been completed, the report becomes a part of the teacher’s personnel file. Another part of a teacher’s overall score will be based on state and local assessments. A teacher may face disciplinary action if they repeatedly fall into the Developing or Ineffective categories.

“A score of 91 to 100 means a teacher is highly effective,” said Murphy. “75 to 90 is an effective teacher. 74 to 65 is a developing teacher and below a 65 means a teacher is ineffective. If a teacher falls into the Developing or Ineffective categories in the first year, they will have to go into TIPS, which is a teacher improvement plan. If they go on a teacher improvement plan for the second year as an ineffective teacher, they face disciplinary action up to and including the potential of being fired. However, a teacher categorized as Developing will not be fired. They can stay under that category for multiple years and have the chance to improve.”

In other matters, the board took a closer look at last year’s ELA and mathematics test scores from Stokes Elementary School. The school’s third and fourth grade mathematics results fell below the Nassau County average, as well as in comparison to districts neighboring Island Trees. Last year, passing percentages for ELA at Stokes Elementary were 74.1 percent for third graders and 76.4 percent for fourth graders. In math, passing percentages at Stokes were 75.6 for the third graders and 77.1 from fourth-graders, while the Nassau County math average from last year was 76 percent for third grade and 80.5 percent for fourth grade. Members of the board were in agreement that they would like to see an improvement in both ELA and Mathematics scores for Island Trees elementary students in 2011-12.

Furthermore, the board approved a four-day field trip to the Greenkill Outdoor Environmental Education Center for Island Trees middle school sixth-graders, and a $400 stipend for each of the 18 teachers chaperoning the trip. The board also approved the disposal of some obsolete equipment in the district, including library books from the Stokes and Sparke Elementary Schools that are in poor condition, as well as office equipment from Stokes.

The Island Trees Board of Education will meet for a work session on Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 7 p.m. and Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 7:30 p.m. for a regular meeting. Both events will take place at the Karopczyc School in Levittown.