During Monday”s welcome convocation for Columbus city school teachers, educators had the opportunity to learn more about changes on the horizon.
Dr. Daphne Buckley, deputy superintendent of the Mississippi Department of Education, spoke at length about the state”s new teacher evaluation system, which is part of a federal mandate linking teacher performance with student growth.
The new system will not be completely in place statewide until 2013, but it is being tested throughout Columbus city schools this year.
A separate, state-funded pilot program exploring the connection between teacher performance-based compensation and student achievement will be implemented this year at Franklin, Cook and eight other schools across the state. Qualified teachers in that program could receive as much as a $5,000 bonus for high performance.
The new teacher evaluations will go beyond classroom observation and give a heavier emphasis to measurements of student growth, including test results from the Mississippi Curriculum Test, said Dr. Martha Liddell, CMSD interim superintendent.
Because the system is still in a testing phase, teachers will not be penalized for the results, but eventually, once the system is enacted statewide, it could be used to determine teacher raises and even termination.
“Teachers are very worried about it, and they don”t know exactly how they”re going to be judged,” Liddell said Monday afternoon, adding that by piloting the program now, Columbus teachers will have the chance to get accustomed to the changes and offer input on the final evaluation instrument.
“We”re in an era of high-stakes testing and accountability, and this era is not going to go away,” Liddell said, adding that she hoped being part of the pilot program would help the district”s educators feel “empowered.”
Liddell said other changes this year will include a stronger focus on dropout prevention and teaching the Common Core Standards, which sets the stage for a national assessment and accountability model rather than leaving it up to each state.
“Tests are getting harder, and we have to be prepared,” Liddell said.
The following instructors received recognition for perfect work attendance last year: Larry Gregg and Sammy Smith, Columbus High School; Benny Cooper, McKellar Technology Center; Hosea Hughes, Columbus Middle School; Debra Jones and Olivia Ulbrich, Cook Elementary; Mildred Ford, Eddie Hill and Janice Ross, Fairview Elementary; Anne Turnage and Lena Sanders, Franklin Academy; Wendy Powers and Marilyn Chandler, Sale Elementary; administrators Tamela Barr and Pamela Lenoir, School Security Officer Juvante Burks and maintenance secretary Emma Allen.
Carmen K. Sisson is the former news editor at The Dispatch.