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Your Tewksbury Today

O'Connor Not Overly Concerned About District's 'Report Cards'

Nov 24, 2014 05:32PM ● By Bill Gilman
The most recent "report cards" received by the Tewksbury School District aren't exactly worthy of getting pinned to the refrigerator but Superintendent of Schools Dr. John O'Connor said he is not overly concerned with the results and feels the district is headed in the right direction.
The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education recently released its second year of "Educator Evaluator Ratings." Teachers and administrators were evaluated according to several criteria and were graded as Exemplary, Proficient, Needs Improvement or Unsatisfactory.
According to the report, 216 of Tewksbury's 296 educators were evaluated. (As a district that does not receive "Race To The Top" Grant funds, 100 percent participation is not required.) Of those, none were graded as Exemplary, 97.7 percent were graded as Proficient, 2.3 percent were graded as Needs Improvement and none were graded as Unsatisfactory. 
According to a press release from the Department of Education, all teachers and administrators are evaluated using a complex five-step evaluation cycle. The process includes, "self-assessment; analysis, goal setting, and plan development; implementation of the plan; a formative assessment/evaluation; and a summative evaluation. Evaluators rate educators using multiple categories of evidence, including observations, multiple measures of student learning and evidence linked to effective practice such as samples of student work, lesson plans, and materials showing engagement with families."
O'Connor said that while the assessment process is a helpful tool for employees and managers, it shouldn't be looked at as definitive gauge on the performance of classroom teachers.
"I believe we have a group of talented, hard-working educators," said O'Connor. "We're always looking to improve the quality of the education our students receive."
There are followup procedures for each educator and administrator, depending on their score.
  • Self-Directed Growth Plan – a one- or two-year plan for experienced educators who were rated Proficient or Exemplary.
  • Directed Growth Plan – a plan up to one year in length for educators rated Needs Improvement.
  • Improvement Plan – a plan of 30 calendar days up to one school year for educators rated Unsatisfactory.
  • Developing Educator Plan – a one-year plan for educators without Professional Teaching Status (also known as tenure), administrators in their first three years in a district, or at the discretion of an evaluator for an educator in a new assignment.
The district also recently received its MCAS Report Card. According to the results, Tewksbury continues to score above the state average. However, with the exception of Tewksbury Memorial High School, the schools in the district that took the MCAS exams (Wynn School, Ryan School, Trahan School, North Street School) failed to meet the improvement benchmarks outlined by the State and thus were categorized as "Level 2" Schools. TMHS was classified as "Level 1."
As a district, Tewksbury has made steady improvements in MCAS scores the past four years. The results indicate 75 percent of Tewksbury students scored proficient or higher on English/Language Arts, 64 percent scored proficient or better on Math and 56 percent scored proficient or better in science.
"These scorers didn't come as a surprise to us. We receive the scores earlier," said O'Connor. "We're aware of the areas that need improvement and we are taking the steps needed to improve in those areas."


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