Minerva Central talks open meetings, teacher evaluations

Minerva Central School Superintendent Timothy Farrell began his report to the School Board March 8 by informing them of a new requirement under the Open Meetings Law to make various types of documents — including proposed resolutions, laws, rules, regulations, policies, and amendments to any of the previous — available prior to the meeting.

He explained that they were planning to make these available online as PDF files since this would be the most cost-effective and easiest way to provide these documents. They also planned to make printed versions available upon request for a small charge to cover expenses.

Farrell next explained the newly mandated teacher evaluation process. He said that all schools that wanted to continue to receive federal funding needed to have the new process in place by 2013. Minerva has already begun to implement it with select teachers who volunteered so the administration could become familiar working with the new guidelines.

The superintendent explained that evaluations would be based on three factors. First of all, 20 percent would be based on student growth as measured by a state test, compared to the students’ scores from the previous year’s test. An additional 20 percent would be based on a locally selected measure of student achievement. The remaining 60 percent would be based on other measures of teacher effectiveness, with a least 31 percent based on multiple classroom observations, including one unannounced observation.

These percentages would be translated into a composite score for teachers. The scores are divided into four levels that consist of highly effective, effective, developing, and ineffective. Farrell noted that if students do not do well on both tests it would be impossible under the new formula for teachers to achieve an evaluation of effective or highly effective. However, he said that Minerva students have historically done well exams — often better than the state average — and so he felt confident that teachers should be able to do well under the new guidelines.

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