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NC Mandates Rating System for Education

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Working under the mandate of its state legislature, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has embarked on an ambitious plan to create and apply a comprehensive method of evaluating the performance of the state's teachers and principals.

The program is thought by its creators to be the first attempt in the country to establish a systematic, statewide means of appraising the work of school personnel.

Under the appraisal plan, which is being pilot-tested in 24 school systems around the state during the 1981-82 school year, all of the state's approximately 55,000 teachers and 2,000 principals will be evaluated annually beginning in 1982-83. Other types of school personnel, officials say, will be included later.

A major element of the accountability plan, according to Roger A. Schurrer, the state department of education official in charge of the project, has been the creation of a set of standards against which teachers and principals will be judged.

Based on a review of evaluation plans used by school systems around the country and the responses to a survey of over 6,000 educators in North Carolina, the standards, says Mr. Schurrer, are designed to test teachers and principals in several broad areas of performance; to identify "indicators" of accomplishment in these broad categories; and to establish "key results" that could be expected if the general standards are being met satisfactorily.

Each principal or his or her representative will be responsible for filling out a teacher's appraisal report--based on the new standards--at the end of a year-long evaluation process that will include both informal and formal classroom observation and meetings. Each superintendent or his or her appointee will evaluate principals in a similar way.

Those who will have to complete the evaluations are to receive special training designed to familiarize them with the standards and improve their "observation and conferencing skills." The standards for teachers include: effective instruction and classroom management; command of the subject area; the use of a variety of appropriate instructional methods, materials, equipment, and resource personnel; and professional behavior.

Principals are rated in instructional leadership; administration of non-instructional programs; management skills; relationships with staff members, students, and members of the community; administration of fiscal affairs at the school level; and evidence of professional ethics.

Mr. Schurrer said the plan is designed primarily to help school systems in the state do a better job of appraising their employees. And he added that it will include procedures for improving performance of individuals in areas in which they do not meet the standards.

"We found that most districts only had check lists," Mr. Schurrer said. "There were no objective criteria and the lists were too open-ended. The biggest problem we found was that principals were simply making value judgments."

Mr. Schurrer added, however, that the new standards will also provide school districts with documentation that they can use to fire poor principals and teachers, even tenured teachers, who traditionally are very difficult to dismiss: "These standards are a way of laying the groundwork for a case [against incompetent tenured teachers]."

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