Maine Ed Commish to Push Teacher Evaluation Reform

By the end of the 2012 legislative session, Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen wants lawmakers to implement tough expectations on Maine teachers as a way to ensure effectiveness in the classroom.

Bowen is also calling for statewide standards for evaluation programs to guide local school districts as they develop their own systems for grading their teachers' performance, writes Jay Field at

This move has been coming for some time. When the federal government set up Race to the Top, Maine's application was rejected. Bowen points out why:

"And the place where we got hammered in the scoring was around that teacher and leader piece."

Bowen said that the Race to the Top shun was a catalyst for discussion.

"States all over the country and the feds are looking at what works–effective classroom practices and using new types of evaluation systems and data systems."

Greg Potter, Superintendent in Sheepscot Valley Regional School District, is trialing a new teachers "scorecard" that grades teachers on student growth in reading and math.

Potter showed members of the school board a mock-up of a report card at a school board meeting this week. The Sheepscot Valley district, along with four others in Maine, are piloting evaluation and training programs.

"So the scorecard you see, the template itself is set up so that it can be expanded," Potter said.

The attendance aspect of the scorecard, however, drew some criticism. Board member Barbara Skehan asked:

"When you talk about average daily attendance, are you talking about students or teacher?" asks board member Barbara Skehan.

"Student attendance," Potter says.

"Unless you're going to give me keys to a car to go and pick up a student, some of which have lower attendance, and unless you have the authority to go and get that kid, you're going to dock me," she replied.

The evaluation model is in its early stages. The subject will be under much debate across the country in coming months as policymakers, legislators, school district administrators and teachers try to come up with new, effective approaches to teacher evaluation.

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