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N.C. To Begin Statewide Evaluation of Teachers, Principals

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The North Carolina State Board of Education has approved a plan to evaluate teachers and principals to be used in all of the state's 143 school districts beginning this year.

State and local officials describe the system as one in which the state will provide descriptions of the major functions of teachers and principals and will leave most of the evaluation process and use of its results up to local districts.

The plan, which was tested in 24 North Carolina districts last year, outlines 33 standards for teachers and 41 for principals that must be used in the evaluation procedures. Local districts have the option of adding additional criteria, but cannot delete any of those provided by the state.

The professional skills in which teachers will be evaluated include planning, giving and overseeing instruction, identifying student strengths and weaknesses, and working well with colleagues. Among the criteria for principals will be leadership ability and administrative and staff-relations skills.

The state will also provide job descriptions for teachers and principals (which districts are not required to use) and evaluation-training sessions for principals.

Principals will evaluate teachers, and superintendents will evaluate principals. Both assessments will be based on a three-, four-, or five-point rating scale devised by the state.

The state will leave the organization of the evaluation process up to the districts, and will not require a "full" evaluation every year.

A "full" evaluation, as described by one superintendent, will consist of an early-fall meeting in which teachers are told what is required of them according to the new state guidelines; subsequent pre- and post-observation conferences; and a final conference preceeding the completion of evaluatory paperwork.

Statewide Evaluation Plan

Two years ago, the North Carolina general assembly directed the state board of education to develop a statewide teacher- and principal-evaluation plan. After a review of other plans in the state and around the country, and a survey of 6,000 North Carolina educators, the North Carolina State Department of Education produced a plan for pilot-testing last year.

Generally, local school officials who participated in the pilot year are satisfied with the system, despite some minor complaints about specific wording in the standards or the rating system.

"But, amazingly, we liked it," said Juanita P. Burns, assistant superintendent of the Shelby City schools, a district initially op-posed to state-mandated standards.

"I guess we weren't jumping up and down for joy when this was announced," she said. "Evaluations have always been a sticky thing. We had tried five instruments before this one came into being."

Some feel that yearly "full" evaluations would be far too time-consuming, said L. Eugene Johnston, assistant superintendent for personnel in the Winston-Salem Forsyth School District.

His district's 2,500 teachers will be given full evaluations every third year, Mr. Johnston said.

William F. Davis, superintendent of Kings Mountain District Schools said that the state system was better than the locally-developed system his district had used.

One weakness, he said, is that the state does not provide guidelines on what constitutes "satisfactory" teachers and principals.

"This will have to be done rather subjectively at the local level," Mr. Davis said.

He and other local officials tend to view the program as a teacher- and principal-improvement program, not as a more expeditious way of recognizing and firing unsatisfactory personnel.

"I doubt seriously whether it will result in more dismissals," he said.

"This is a teacher-improvement program. Weeding out teachers is a minor reason for it," said Mr. Johnston of the Winston-Salem district.

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