Look at the Niagara Falls City School District’s website and you might miss it. But a new addition is available to visitors near the bottom of the page.
Niagara Falls has been mandated by the state to post its presentation on how it evaluates its teachers and building principals to its website. Called the Annual Professional Performance Review, the plan is to streamline the evaluation process, with federal funding in the Race to the Top program instituted by the Obama administration the driving force.
Race to the Top provides competitive grants to states which make improvements in four criteria, including recruiting, developing, rewarding and retaining effective teachers and principals. New York has qualified and is making the money available to districts which comply.
“That’s a big pot of money,” Maria Massaro, human resources administrator, said. “In the district, we can use that money for training, promotions, tenure.”
The plan being developed evaluates both teachers and principals using several criteria. Assistant principals, however, wouldn’t be subject to these evaluations under current state definitions, Massaro said.
In 2011-12, only principals and those teachers of grades 4-8 in common branch subjects, English Language Arts and mathematics will be subject to these reviews.
However, the plan is not completed, with negotiations still ongoing to determine specific criteria for the evaluations, Massaro said. Board action on the completed plan is not expected this week when the board meets at 7 p.m. Thursday at the District Administration Building, 630-66th St.
Evaluations are given on a 100-point scale. Though the reviews are based on a state-wide formula, each district is allowed to negotiate several criteria in each review, Massaro said, adding the district received a list of acceptable options from the state to bargain from. If the district chooses to go off the list, they would need to ask the state for variance, subject to state approval, she said.
For teachers and principals who do not receive an acceptable score in two consecutive performance reviews, which are represented by a score of 64 or fewer points, the district will be able to expedite termination proceedings. It’s a way to streamline the process, Massaro said.
Massaro did point out to the school board that the actual reviews would not be changing, only the process they’re conducted through.