published Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Rhea County School Board targets teacher evaluation program

By Tom Davis/Correspondent

DAYTON, Tenn. — Rhea County school board members are prepared to ask state officials for a major revision of the system’s new teacher evaluation protocol, claiming it is discouraging to teachers and an incentive for good teachers to leave education.

Board member Dale Harris was told to prepare a resolution for the November meeting that pointed out what board members see as deficiencies in the evaluation program, which was developed as a result of the state’s winning federal Race to the Top funding.

Board Chairman B.J. McCoy said he attended a meeting of board chairmen this week and heard a report that surveys indicate as many as 42 percent of educators subject to the new evaluation standards are considering leaving teaching within the next five years.

“The evaluation is hurting the attitude of teachers,” he said. “I’m getting more and more calls” from teachers who are thinking about leaving education.

“They don’t mind evaluations, but they don’t need the stress of this system,” McCoy said.

Harris said the system has backfired.

“We tried to get excellence in Tennessee, but we’re taking time away from teachers and administrators,” he said.

Board member John Mincy noted that Hamilton and five other large Tennessee counties received waivers from the new system. In counties such as Rhea, administrators are required to evaluate tenured teachers four times per year and new teachers six times a year.

In other matters, board members authorized Frazier Elementary School Principal Gale Kelly to attend the Nov. 14 National Blue Ribbon School recognition program in Washington, D.C.

Frazier was one of 304 schools nationwide whose students “achieve at very high levels or have made significant progress and helped close gaps in achievement,” according to a release from the U.S. Department of Education.

Also, construction manager Steve Hewlett reported that demolition of the former alternative school building is about to begin, and site preparation for the new high school should begin shortly.

Tom Davis is based in Dayton. Email him at tsdavis@volstate.net.

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