Mon, March 30

CV children hold fate of teachers<br>Kids may affect teacher's careers

Several educators and parents are questioning the validity of opinions made by angry or frustrated students or those unable to comprehend their task.

Camp Verde School District Superintendent Ron Maughan stated, in a document distributed at the school board meeting entitled "Process vs. Product," that the district's approved performance criteria addressed "results" of academic achievement.

The document states that criteria addresses the process that teachers may use and makes the statement that educators excuse themselves from results as, "It's not fair, you can't measure it."

In addition, the document states that educators had used what it calls, "excuses," such as students don’t speak English or they come from broken homes.

Further, it reads that these and other excuses seem to have aided educators for years in escaping accountability and that teachers are teaching but are not being held accountable for any results.

The document closes by stating, "As superintendent, I simply say: if teachers and principals aren't accountable for student learning in their buildings, who is?"

This addresses the issue of student achievement in area schools and is akin to efforts by school administrators to improve the level of education that young students are receiving. As a result of this, teachers are coming under fire from an evaluation procedure that brought them clamoring to the boardroom.

Jan Pender is a fourth-grade teacher at Camp Verde Elementary. She said that changes need to be made in the current evaluation process, as children cannot comprehend their evaluation's effect on a teacher.

"Some of the evaluations are coming from 5-year-olds and can have negative consequences on a teacher's career," she said. "They aren't necessary and cause a hostile work environment."

She added that factors affecting student performance include their home situation, their attitude, health, and even a student's I.Q.

"Since when are teachers not held accountable?" She asked the board. "Every parent holds us accountable."

This brought a round of applause from the audience.

School Board member Andy Ayres said that students should not be taught for success of one test and, "Evaluations aren't fun, but we are trying to be more proficient in different areas."

School Board member John Bassous countered, saying that his own elementary-school child was given a teacher evaluation to perform on his teacher.

"He didn't understand what he was doing," he said. "Maybe we need to rethink the evaluation process and make more clear what we are trying to measure."

He mentioned that a student's dislike for homework or one who maybe had a bad day at school might let these influences affect the evaluation on the teacher.

This information process has influences coming from young, impressionable and fickle minds, the results of which may affect teachers’ careers, performance, whether or not they get a raise or even if they are to be retained as employees.

"It's good that students evaluate us as educators but not taken to this level," he added.

The School Board seems to be examining the evaluation process and may have a few wrinkles to iron out before things get better.

Meanwhile, educators and even parents are concerned about the fairness and the merit of this process.

Helen Freeman, of Camp Verde, has three kids in school – one in middle school and two in high school.

She said that there are other factors that must be considered when student achievement is under scrutiny and that teachers can only teach, not perform miracles.

She said that parents must take responsibility for their children and not rely on teachers to pick up the slack.

"It doesn't matter who the teacher is if a student isn't going to work," she said. "The first level of responsibility lies with the student and parents. Then with the teacher and administrators."

Dr. Suzi Bogom, federal projects director, brought a second round of applause from the audience when she said to the board that standardized tests can only give a snapshot at a given time and not a full picture of students’ full potential.

Maughan was unavailable for comment.

The School Board said that it has been several years since the District Staff Evaluation system was adopted.

Still, the board seems in a quandary as how to proceed as far as teacher evaluations are concerned.

The adoption of the staff evaluation revisions is scheduled for an October action item.

Still, board member Wendy Escoffier urges caution while test results are tallied at our schools.

"I feel [the summative staff evaluation] isn't a good idea in its present state."


Staff photo by Dean H. Borgwardt

The Camp Verde School Board met Sept. 9 and educators and parents filled the boardroom to capacity. Educators and parents came to voice their opinions the staff evaluation process in Camp Verde schools. The meeting went into late session as several people addressed the board. The Summative Evaluation Report process is scheduled for an October action item.

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