CITE ‘opportunities’ to be presented to DAC, Board of Education
District Accountability Committee Vice Chair served on focus group, believes proposed changes will address some key teacher and principal concerns
CASTLE ROCK – When Brian Wetterling applied for the District Accountability Committee (DAC) last year, he, like many others before him, wanted to make a positive contribution to the Douglas County School District.
“I wanted to look at areas where I could effect positive change,” explained Wetterling, who now serves as the Committee’s Vice Chair.
The businessman, who has experience in sales and account management, had heard about frustrations surrounding the teacher evaluation system.
“I know there has been quite an adjustment and pain associated with that change. Certainly, it is a cultural shift and it was clear that people were struggling with various elements of CITE. For example one of the most significant being the amount of evidence that teachers feel they need to upload. In several areas issues were caused by inconsistency and misperceptions within the system,” Wetterling said.
“For instance, there are misconceptions around ratings. Some people believed and had been told that as a first year teacher, you basically will not get anything more than partially effective,” Wetterling added. “That is not the case—and is not supposed to be the case. It is something that we have to address as a system.”
Knowing that the DAC statutorily had the authority to provide input in this area, he began looking for a way that he could help.
“I spent about a year going around and talking to different constituents and schools – both principals and teachers – just getting their feedback around areas that we could improve in CITE? My intent was to bring the feedback to the administration and the District and District Accountability Committee and then work together to address some of these points, some of these opportunities,” Wetterling explained. “I like to call them opportunities, areas where we could improve this for teachers and principals.”
Just about the time he concluded these discussions, he learned about the CITE/LEAD Focus Group, being formed by DCSD Director of CITE Ian Wells. Wetterling was invited to participate and found out that the members of this committee felt similarly to those that he spoke with throughout the District.
“Everything that I had identified from teachers and principals were all brought up during the focus group meetings,” Wetterling said. “It basically affirmed what I had already been told. Additionally, there were some new things that the focus group identified.”
As discussed in our last article, Robust, honest conversations lead to suggestions for CITE improvements, the focus group has identified three areas that they wish to improve in this first effort:
- Renaming of Evaluation Categories
- Removal of Backward Planning
- Expanded Definitions
Brian believes strongly that the improvements suggested by these professionals will directly address challenges that some teachers and administrators have had with CITE.
“My hope is that the teachers and the principals will spend some time looking at the changes that have been proposed by their peers,” Wetterling said. I would like them to approach these changes with fresh eyes and positive intent. I think there are some key positive improvements.”
He says these changes wouldn’t have been possible without the work of the entire focus group, beginning with its leader, Ian Wells.
“I can’t say enough about the great job he did,” said Wetterling. “Mr. Wells really fostered an open and safe environment, where people could talk candidly and express their feelings and really get down and look at the nitty-gritty details of how we could address these things.”
“We also need to compliment all the teachers and principals that participated in this, because they spent a lot of their own time after school and on evenings on this thing,” Wetterling added.
He says the work is not complete, however. He and several of the teachers we spoke to in the last article, say they would like to continue the focus group to address additional issues.
“[The changes are] consistent with what I’ve heard from teachers and principals over the past year and a half and the impact of this thing should be higher morale, it is going to be less burdensome for teachers. I, however, don’t see this as a one and done,” Wetterling said. “We’ve tried to carve out, in this first iteration, the 20 percent of the things that we can change today that would make this 80 percent better.”
The committee has spoken about the possibility of adding additional differentiation, because of feedback from teachers in the system.
“We’ve looked at the idea of doing a 5th category,” Wetterling explained.
The focus group received feedback from the system that it would like to see more differentiation in the effective category.
“Those teachers can look different, but right now there is one bucket. There is currently no way to distinguish or to give both recognition and compensation for those teachers at the high end of effective,” Wetterling said.
In the meantime, the first group of proposed changes will be presented to the DAC on Thursday, June 14. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.
The DAC will have an ability to provide feedback, before the amended evaluation system is presented to the Board of Education at its June 21 meeting.