Additional teachers and school leaders join process to refine teacher evaluation tool
CASTLE ROCK – For a second year in a row, a group of Douglas County School District (DCSD) teachers and administrators have gathered to find ways to improve the Continuous Improvement of Teacher Effectiveness (CITE) evaluation tool. While the group has grown this year, to include more voices, the focus has stayed consistent.
“We are defining what excellence looks like in Douglas County School District. What an honor, to get to do that,” said Principal Deanne Kirby of Trailblazer Elementary. She is one of the returning members of the focus group.
“Everyone in that room has the responsibility of making sure that we are doing our best. It is hard, at times,” Kirby added.
The CITE Focus Group is currently working on a slate of possible changes to the teacher evaluation tool that will be presented to district leadership and the the District Accountability Committee in the next month, before going before the DCSD Board of Education this summer for approval.
LEARN ABOUT WHAT THE CITE FOCUS GROUP ACHIEVED LAST YEAR:
- CITE ‘opportunities’ to be presented to DAC, Board of Education
- Robust, honest conversations lead to suggestions for CITE improvements
- DCSD teachers, principals compare and contrast CITE to state’s evaluation tool
With employees from across the district representing different levels (elementary, middle and high), subjects (English, math, science and specials) and positions (teachers, assistant principals and principals), there are often a variety of viewpoints.
“It has been long hours. It has been difficult conversations, but I truly think that everyone is there to make it better,” said returning member and Daniel C. Oakes High School Principal Derek Fleshman.
“There is definitely a lot of strong opinions in that room, and rightfully so, because the people there represent their buildings and the people they talk to,” said new CITE Focus Group member Brett Michel, the athletic director at Sierra Middle School. “At the same time, it has been very cordial. We all know that we are trying to get to the best product that we can put out there.”
“Although we have disagreements, it always focused on doing what is best for kids. We are not letting adult issues impede that,” Kirby said.
According to members of the focus group, some in the district felt that the conception and implementation of CITE was top-down. The CITE Focus Group is now taking strides to turn that around, creating an evaluation system that is teacher created and supported.
“It definitely felt like something that was done to us,” said Fleshman.
“The further we have gotten into the process, the further we have gotten from the hurt feelings and the issues of the past. We are really looking ahead at the future. We are trying to do our best to make this the best tool possible,” Kirby said.
While it wasn’t possible to have every teacher and administrator in the district involved in the process, the focus group members did their best to integrate feedback from the teachers in their buildings and others they’ve met.
“We had great feedback that we could work off of. I feel that the work we have done does a good job of reflecting the priorities of administrators and teachers from various sites across the district,” Michel said.
Additionally, at the beginning of the year Interim Superintendent Erin Kane spoke to the group, sharing her support and thoughts. She encouraged them to consider the Three Key Elements, especially Building a Positive Climate and Culture.
“I think Erin has done a great job of coming in and empowering the group to make the changes to make the tool better. I truly hope that this is something that the staff of Douglas County sees,” Fleshman said.
In Our Next Edition of THINK: Teachers in the CITE Focus Group discuss why they are suggesting “flipping” the tool upside down.