San Luis Coastal eyes new grading procedure for teachers

A new evaluation system for teachers is being proposed in the San Luis Coastal Unified School District that would link student achievement to teacher performance.

The goal is to improve learning and overall student success, according to Superintendent Eric Prater.

“At the end of the day it is about accountability,” Prater said. “The only way to achieve our initiatives is to have great teaching.”

The new evaluation system would replace one now in use that is based largely on classroom observations and a satisfactory or unsatisfactory rating.

Many of the components that will be included in the evaluation process have yet to be determined. A 12-member team of administrators and teachers is charged with creating it.

The new evaluation process is linked to a tentative deal recently reached by the teachers union and San Luis Coastal, the county’s second-largest school district, with 7,200 students from preschool through 12th grade.

In addition to a raise of just above 4 percent over the three-year contract, teachers could potentially receive an additional 1 percent raise in the 2012-13 academic year if the evaluation system is started by October 2012.

The union membership — which has yet to ratify the deal — plans to meet Friday to discuss the proposal.

Bruce Badrigian, president of the San Luis Coastal Teachers Association, spoke positively of the proposal, saying it could serve as a useful tool.

“The idea of linking test scores to the evaluation process is just one part of a whole wide range of measurements looking at effectiveness in the classroom,” Badrigian said. “It is not anything we are afraid of. Administration and teachers working collaboratively is a win-win situation.”

The evaluation system would be used to identify areas in which teachers might need additional resources, said Rick Robinett, assistant superintendent of personnel and education services.

“Our belief is that the greatest predictor of student achievement and growth is having effective teachers in front of kids — it is what happens in the classroom,” Robinett said.

A similar evaluation system is being proposed for principals.

In addition to student achievement data, classroom management and communication with families might be considered as factors for evaluation.

“There are lots of things that go into good teaching and good leadership, and we want to make sure there is a continuum for that,” Robinett said. “What we want to see is that students are progressing from fall to spring.”

Badrigian said initial concerns of teachers about the proposed program are based on how teachers of various subjects and students of varying needs will be measured equitably.

“There are a lot of hows and ifs not worked out yet,” Badrigian said. “That will be the Herculean path of this committee — to come up with a fair tool that is equitable to everyone.”

Lucia Mar’s system

The Lucia Mar Unified School District — San Luis Obispo County’s largest school system — approved a teacher evaluation program in February that was launched recently at some campuses. It uses a 19-point scoring system, including how students perform on standardized tests.

That program — called TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Achievement — differs from what San Luis Coastal is proposing because it is linked to bonuses for top- performing teachers.

Lucia Mar is using a $7.2 million, five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Incentive Fund to pay for the program.

San Luis Coastal does not have such a grant, and it is not proposing merit pay be linked directly to evaluations.

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.