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State gives teachers high marks in Montezuma County

Educators focused on how to improve, M-CHS principal says

An overwhelming majority of teachers and principals in Montezuma County school districts were given Colorado Department of Education’s top two evaluation ratings for the 2014-2015 school year, according to data released Monday.

CDE assesses teachers on a scale with four ratings: “highly effective,” “effective,” “partially effective” and “ineffective.” This is the first time CDE has released teacher performance ratings to the public, according to a release from the agency.

No teachers among the county’s three districts were rated “ineffective.” In the Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 district, about 42 percent of educators were rated “highly effective,” and 39 percent were rated “effective.” About 6 percent were rated “partially effective” and 12 percent were not assigned a rating.

Montezuma-Cortez High School Principal Jason Wayman said Wednesday that teachers look to improve every year.

“I was surprised with how many are focused on how they can improve,” he said. “That’s why they’re teachers, and they care. They want to be better for their kids.”

In Dolores Re-4A, all teachers and principals were evaluated at the two highest ratings, with 62 percent rated “highly effective” and 38 percent were rated “effective.”

In Mancos Re-6, 72 percent of educators were rated “highly effective,” and about 24 percent were rated “effective.” Less than 5 percent were rated “partially effective.”

Across Colorado, about 35 percent of educators were rated “highly effective,” 54 percent were rated “effective” and just under 4 percent were rated “partially effective.” Less than one-tenth of a percent of teachers were rated “ineffective,” and just under 8 percent of state educators were not assigned a rating.

Wayman said evaluations consider how a teacher is helping the school meet its goals, the teacher’s personal goals and the achievement of his or her students. Evaluations aren’t just based on the principal’s observation of the teacher, he said.

“It’s done a lot to try to get the whole picture of what goes on in the classroom,” he said of the evaluation process. “It takes in multiple pieces of evidence to see what’s going on.”

Cortez schools had 171 teachers in the 2014-2015 school year, according to CDE numbers. Dolores employed 53 that year, and Mancos had 35.

Re-1 Superintendent Lori Haukeness said the current system is more comprehensive than the previous evaluation process. The 2013-2014 school year was the first time the current evaluation process took place, according to CDE.

The structured process takes more time and work from both teachers and administrators, though, Haukeness said. The first step takes place in the first month of school, and the ratings aren’t finalized until May.

The ratings reflect elements of a teacher’s performance over an entire school year, instead of a single observation session, Haukeness said. Teachers and principals feel it’s a fair system, she added.

“It fairly represents the instructional components in the classrooms,” she said.

According to CDE, the data is not intended to be used to compare districts, because the evaluation process is different from area to area across the state.

In addition to effectiveness, the overall rating category, CDE released data on three other evaluation factors: quality standards, alignment and equitable distribution.

Quality standards analyzes teachers and principals in several areas, including familiarity with content, how they create a learning environment, leadership and student growth.

Alignment shows how well an educator’s performance on teaching or leadership standards matches with student growth on assessment tests.

Equitable distribution shows the percentage of effective educators in schools with varying levels of students in poverty, minority students and English language learners.

Colorado’s Great Teachers and Leaders Act, passed in 2010, requires annual evaluations of every teacher and principal in the state.

Mancos will be exempt from that portion of the law starting in 2017. CDE awarded the district “innovative status” earlier this year, which means Re-6 can conduct less frequent evaluations and hire unlicensed teachers in certain situations.

Under the designation, new Mancos teachers will face a probationary period for three years and be evaluated each year. Teachers who don’t face probation will be evaluated once every three years.

“The purpose of the Great Teachers and Leaders Act was to support our teachers and leaders in improving their practice through regular, meaningful feedback,” Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes said in the news release.

jacobk@the-journal.com

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