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Alcona approves new evaluation policy

October 22, 2012
Andrew Westrope - News Staff Writer , The Alpena News

LINCOLN - Alcona Community Schools Board of Education supported a new teacher evaluation policy on Monday that would boost student achievement and pedagogy to 60 percent of a teacher's rating and also quantify volunteer contributions. The board will read the policy a second time in meeting on Nov. 12 before making a final decision.

Principal Terry Allison, Assistant Principal Dan O'Connor, and Superintendent Shawn Thornton came up with the particulars of the policy to adhere to a recent state law requiring new guidelines for teacher evaluations to take effect when a new contract is in place. The school's current teacher contract expired on Aug. 31, and the board tabled the ratification of its new contract until its next meeting, scheduled for Nov. 12.

State law now requires schools to base at least 51 percent of their teacher ratings on student achievement and pedagogy, with student achievement being the prevailing factor. If the board votes to approve the policy next month, Alcona would decide the ratings of its teachers on 31 percent student growth (achievement data including MEAP scores, classroom scores, and standardized tests), 29 percent pedagogy (teaching skills related to instruction ability and class environment), 20 percent relevant training and professional development, and 20 percent volunteer contributions and accomplishments. Teachers will be rated "ineffective," "minimally effective," "effective," or "highly effective," and let go if rated "ineffective" for over two years.

Thornton said the policy would reinforce the district's focus on student achievement.

"It should be the most important factor, and we did not want somebody's engagement in professional development activities or individual specialized training to outweigh, potentially, and skew the results of someone's evaluation," she said. "You wouldn't want someone to be ineffective in terms of student achievement but highly effective in all of the other areas, and then basically negate student achievement."

The board voted 5-1 in favor of the policy after its first reading on Monday, with Steve Yokom opposed because he thought the policy would put an unnecessary stress on teachers, and he was skeptical of the state law's requirement to quantify volunteer hours like helping with family nights, open house, graduation, tutoring, sporting events or dances.

Allison was adamant the policy would only reinforce good behavior.

"We're not out to get teachers. If you're doing your job, you're working hard, things are going to be fine. If you're not doing your job, I'm going to let you know where you're not doing your job, and I'm also going to let you know where you're doing really well," he said. "If there are any major problems, we are going to address those as soon as we can. We are not out to get anyone, we're here to grow as a district."

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Andrew Westrope can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 358-5693.



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