BELDING — In the last year, there have been significant changes to the Belding Area Schools system, including new athletic facilities, teachers, classrooms and more.
But not all of Belding’s changes have been as visible, including the new framework created for the Professional Practice and Teacher Evaluation Process, voted through by Belding school board members Monday night.
In accordance with a change in state law in July 2011 affecting teacher tenure reform, a change that Gov. Rick Snyder said would end the “Last In, First Out” practice through which school districts made staffing decisions based on seniority, Belding administrators formed a 23-member committee in May to adjust the Evaluation Model and Board Policies to comply with the new law.
“Making staffing decisions based on merit and performance encourages good teachers to keep doing what they are doing and helps ensure students receive the highest quality education,” Snyder said in 2011 after signing the legislation into law. “This long overdue reform will protect outstanding teachers who are enthusiastic about the material and able to connect with students in a way that makes them want to learn.”
In Belding, the committee of 23 members, comprised of administrators, teachers from various grade levels and leadership of the Belding Education Association, officially updated the district’s policies and evaluation process.
Belding High School Assistant Principal Leslie Mount, who was acting superintendent until July 31, presented board members with the new policies and evaluation process to school board members Monday night.
“With this particular tool, this will be the first time we will be using it,” she said. “All staff were evaluated using a similar model (in the past) but it was not this in depth. This will now be more uniform and consistent.”
Mount said the new policies, after being voted through by board members unanimously Monday night, will take effect for the 2012-2013 school year.
“We had to, by the time school started, have a new model in place,” Mount said. “What we did, knowing lots of people could have input and very good ideas, we put together a group that consisted of 23 people. It was a wonderful process where everyone worked well together. We came to decisions together and it was a good process.”
Superintendent Sara Shriver said she was pleased to see so many people come together to create the new policies.
“Leslie worked very, very hard on this process, even when she wasn’t contracted to be working,” Shriver said. “The input and collaboration with the 23 representatives and teachers was very helpful. I believe we are ahead of the game in this area.”
Shriver said each school’s administrators will be performing the individual evaluations.
According to Mount, legal components that were necessary include student growth, individual evaluation, extra professional development and extra service to the profession.
The final products created by the committee are an evaluation manual and spreadsheet tools that will be utilized for evaluation purposes.
According to the newly adopted Evaluation Procedures and Process, each Belding teacher must be evaluated annually. If a teacher is rated “highly effective” for three consecutive years, they may be evaluated biennially.
Four evaluation rating categories will be utilized, which include “highly effective,” “effective,” “minimally effective” and “ineffective.”
Teachers who are new to the district after September 2011 and have never earned tenure will be on a five-year tenure program. Three consecutive ratings of at least “effective” must be earned for a teacher to receive tenure.
All probationary teachers and teachers rated “ineffective or “minimally effective” must have an individual development plan and year-end evaluations must assess progress toward individual development plan goals.
Any teacher rated “ineffective” for three consecutive years must be dismissed.