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Schools take part in study
District volunteers for new statewide program
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Dawson County Schools will participate in a statewide field study to test new methods of teacher evaluation.

More than 190 other Georgia schools will also participate in the program.

“This field study will give administrators a clearer picture of what is happening in the classroom,” said Lisa Perry, director of personnel and support services for the local school system.

“Whether you are a veteran teacher or an inexperienced teacher, there are always things you can do better,” she added.

Each school principal will choose five teachers to be evaluated.

The principals and selected teachers will attend a two-day training session at the end of September at the North Georgia Regional Educational Service Agency to learn all the standards, processes and procedures for the field study.

Those practices will be tested during teacher evaluations from October to February. All findings will then be sent to the state department to be reviewed.

The state department will determine if any aspects of the new teacher evaluation system need to be revised.

Based on the success of the field study, the state department will create manuals explaining the procedures for administrative training and teacher evaluation.

The manual will be offered to schools across the state.

“This could be how all schools in Georgia choose to evaluate their teachers,” said Perry.

Results are expected to be announced next spring. If all goes well, the new teacher evaluation standards could be integrated into school systems as soon as next fall.

The field study was created by the University of Georgia’s Department of Education and the CLASS Keys Committee, a group of 20 school administrators from across Georgia.

Perry, who sits on the CLASS Keys Committee, volunteered Dawson County schools for the field study.

Perry said she was eager to involve schools in the project because the new evaluation standards are more in line with the Georgia Keys, which are the standards Georgia schools aim to achieve.

“I wanted our principals and teachers to have a say in how this instrument is working and if it is doing what we expect it to do,” said Perry.

The previous teacher evaluation system judged teachers solely based on a 20-minute observation session conducted by an administrator.

The new teacher evaluation process will incorporate more factors into a teacher’s assessment.

The field study will require administrators to look at three separate categories while determining a teacher’s effectiveness: Teacher planning (how well a teacher prepares lessons for class), teacher performance (how well a teacher communicates lessons to a class) and student performance (how well students comprehend the lessons taught to them).

The field study also requires that the observation session be upped from 20-minutes to an hour-long class period.

Dawson County Schools Superintendent Nicky Gilleland is impressed with the system’s pursuit of excellence.

“I am proud of our principals and staff volunteering for something so new and different to improve instruction in our schools. Their willingness to step up and work harder for this purpose is remarkable,” said Gilleland.  

Whether or not this field study will translate into permanent practice among schools is unknown.

But if the state department determines these standards are a better measuring tool for success, then Dawson County schools could be setting a precedent in standards for all Georgia schools.