Friday, August 3, 2012

The Summer of Teacher Evaluation Training: Fear, Chaos, and Pain

According to the internet movie database, Christopher Nolan describes his "Batman" movies as follows: "Batman Begins" is about fear, "The Dark Knight:" is about chaos, and "The Dark Knight Rises" is about pain. 

I'm completing my own trilogy on the 2012 Teacher Evaluation system, and Fear, Chaos, and Pain seem appropriate themes for the training as a whole.

Anyway, we've been struggling to understand why our Student Services chairs should have to go through the Danielson teacher training, since they are not teachers, and evaluate social workers and counselors. Certified staff, to be sure, but not teaching staff in any way. Different certifications, right? 

For that matter, the head of our media center (AKA Library) evaluates certified school librarians. Again it's a different certification, and Danielson's teaching framework has no relation to what they do. 

(You know where this is headed, right? Skip to the last paragraph if you're running short on time. I just need to rant)

Anyway, we were encouraged when we ran across the following statements from the school code embedded in the Module 1 training: 


“Qualified Evaluator”shall have the meaning set forth in Section24A-2.5or24A-15ofthe School Code and shall be an individual who has completed the prequalification process required under Section 24A-3 of the School Code, as applicable, and successfully passed the State-developed assessments specific to evaluation of teachers. Each qualified evaluator shall maintain his or her qualification by completing the retraining as applicable.

“Teacher” means full-time or part-time professional employees of the school district who are required to hold a teaching certificate issued in accordance with Article 21 of the School Code or a professional educator’s license endorsed for a teaching field issued in accordance with Article 21B of the School Code. For the purposes of the requirements specific to student growth outlined in Article 24A of the School Code and this Part,“teacher” shall not include any individual who holds a school service personnel certificate issued under Article 21 of the School Code or a professional educator license endorsed for school support personnel issued under Article 21B of the School Code and is assigned to an area designated as requiring this certificate or endorsement, including but not limited to school counselor, school psychologist, nonteaching school speech and language pathologist, school nurse, or school social worker 

Luckily, our Superintendent is the current President of the Illinois Association of School Administrators, and made some inquiries with their legal department. The IASA lawyer looked at the language and agreed: evaluators of non-teaching certified staff should not have to go through that training, and we got some early indication from the State that, at the very least, they would be exempt from Module 2. That was about a month ago, and they could not give us a definitive answer. 

It's interesting, of course, that this required any discussion one way or another. Since it took them a month to craft an answer, they were obviously unprepared for the question.  Were they THAT unaware of all the types of certified staff who are evaluated in their state? 
Well, we have the final answer and it's what you would expect: no exceptions. Our Superintendent's message to us was the following: 

"Well, ISBE has finally made a decision on the teacher evaluation training and unfortunately they have decided that all evaluators of certifited staff members will have to complete all five modules.  No exceptions.  Despite the fact that the law has a provision in it that states the opposite, ISBE says everyone has to do it."

Makes perfect sense. Keep calm and call Batman. 

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