GROTON -- Complying with state law, members of the Groton-Dunstable Regional School Committee voted last week to adopt a Memorandum of Understanding with the local teachers' union that deals with educator evaluations.
Sponsored by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the education evaluation instrument will allow the district to judge teachers against four established standards established by the state including curriculum, planning and assessment, teaching, and community engagement.
The instrument will also be used to assess how teachers progress toward those goals using a "four-rating system" involving proficiency, exemplary, needs improvement, and unsatisfactory.
According to Interim Superintendent Anthony Bent, the MOU outlines an evaluation system that is "substantially better" than what the district has had in the past.
Bent told committee members last week that the evaluation instrument outlined "a terrific system" that was substantial in both depth and scope.
Effective for the 2012-1013 school year, the MOU will cover 50 percent of the district's current staff. Those chosen to be evaluated will be done so by a random drawing of names.
Approved "by a majority" of union members, a representative of the union will be present to witness the draw.
Those staff members chosen from the draw will then proceed through a "five-step cycle" beginning on Oct. 5.
On that date, those teachers selected will self-assess their own teaching practices against the four standards and submit at least two personal goals that must be "specific, measurable, and actionable."
On Nov. 1, individual teachers will then meet with their supervisor to evaluate their self-assessments and goals.
On Nov. 8, education plans will have been developed for teachers chosen in the draw and signed off by supervisors.
On Feb. 1, pre and post observations will be conducted of teachers chosen in the draw with other unannounced visits also to be performed.
On Feb. 8, assessments of teacher performances announced with subsequent one-year plan based on evaluations.
On May 15, final evaluation of teacher performances is submitted.
By June 1, a further and final evaluation of those teachers who have been assessed in the needs improvement or unsatisfactory ratings will be reviewed with a decision on their ultimate status.
Prior to the May, feedback from evaluators, teachers, and the Education Evaluation Working Group will be sought on the evaluative process and compare how the process fared against the goals outlined in the MOU.
In an earlier interview, Bent said that signing on to the MOU required the district to implement it this year and that the administration would be "focusing like a laser beam on that new teaching evaluation system."
Also last week, the School Committee met with NESDEC (New England School Development Council) representative Arthur Bettencourt to discuss moving forward with the search process needed to hire a permanent superintendent.
Bettencourt opened his summary by telling the committee that the entire process would take about four months with interviews of finalists expected to take place by next February or March.
To start, the School Committee will need to appoint an Advisory Screening Committee whose membership would likely include interim superintendent Bent, business manager Gerry Martin, and a special education administrator.
Other members could include other school staff members, selectmen from either Groton or Dunstable, a student, parents, a senior citizen, members of local school support organizations such as the boosters, and a citizen at large.
The function of the Screening Committee, said Bettencourt, will be to sift through whatever applications are received and to recommend finalists to the School Committee.
The stated goal of the School Committee is to have a replacement for Bent in place by the end of the 2013 school year.
Finally, last week, committee members were briefed by high school Principal Michael Mastrullo on the results of the school's Advanced Placement courses for the year covering 2011 to 2012.
Mastrullo reported that out of 307 students who took the AP exams, 87 percent scored well enough to earn college credits, a total well above the state average.
Courses taken ranged from English Language to Mathematics to social studies.