Professional Development

Teacher Designs App to Help Colleagues ‘CYA’ During Evaluations

By Benjamin Herold — July 21, 2014 1 min read
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For many teachers, the prospect of dealing with new evaluation systems being implemented by states and districts falls somewhere between stressful and agonizing.

Now, there’s a slyly named new app—designed by a teacher, no less—to help teachers manage the process.

My former colleague Kevin McCorry of WHYY/NewsWorks in Philadelphia has the story of Katy Morris, an eighth-grade algebra and geometry teacher at Welsh Valley Middle School in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Morris, who told NewsWorks she formerly worked as a programmer, used her spare time to develop an app she calls “CYA.”

For “Catalog Your Activities,” of course.

From McCorry’s story:

This past school year, Pennsylvania adopted a new statewide teacher evaluation system —due in part to an incentive in the federal Race to the Top school accountability competition. The new system, known as the “Danielson Framework,” breaks teacher competency down into four domains that incorporate 22 components containing a total of 76 specific criteria elements. On each element, administrators assess teachers on a three-tiered scale, judging them to be basic, proficient or distinguished. ... After four months of tinkering in her spare time, Morris came up with is an iPhone app called CYA Teacher Eval Tool that allows teachers to make their “proof” pocket-sized. “I just wanted to have a way to take photos, quickly snap things in my classroom—bulletin boards, examples of students’ work, different versions of quizzes or tests that I made up, activities,” she said. “And I wanted to just keep track of that and have a way to line it up with these criteria, the framework for the evaluation.” In addition to providing easy reference to the Danielson Framework, the app provides suggestions on how to fulfill each requirement, and helps teachers manage activities that coordinate with multiple criteria. “If I start at the beginning of the year, then I won’t have to remember everything that I’ve done when the end of the year rolls around,” Morris said. “I’ve kind of got a running tally.”

The app is currently being sold in the Apple app store for $2.99.

You can read and listen to the full WHYY/NewsWorks story here.

Photo: Teacher Katy Morris uses the CYA iPhone app that she developed to document classroom activities and keep track of other components of the teacher evaluation process -- Emma Lee for NewsWorks/WHYY.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.