New evaluation system moves forward for city public schools

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The board of Pittsburgh Public Schools tonight moved forward on new evaluation systems for principals, central office administrators and non-teaching professionals for 2014-15.

Under state law, the district is required to use a new evaluation system for principals and non-teaching professionals, such as counselors and nurses, starting in the coming school year. The district on its own is adding one for central administration.

The state also required a new evaluation system for teachers, which is taking effect this school year.

On a 6-3 vote, the board approved alternate rating forms. For the principals and non-teaching professionals, the forms must receive state approval. The forms are based on a new system, but the scores needed for an employee for various levels of proficiency haven't been determined.

Board member Regina Holley voted against the forms. Noting the controversy over the score ranges of teacher evaluations, she said she wanted to see the levels first.

Board members Mark Brentley Sr. and Cynthia Falls also voted against the forms.

The central office evaluations will cover about 70 administrators next school year. This school year, a portion of the system is being piloted with about 20 cabinet and other senior-level administrators.

Half of the central office evaluation will focus on performance priorities that are set by the employee and supervisor but are in keeping with the district's overall goals. Another 35 percent will evaluate professional practice in seven areas, such as leadership and vision, and leading for equity.

The remaining 15 percent will include 10 percent "stakeholder perceptions," which has not been defined, and 5 percent district student achievement and growth, which may use the state School Performance Profile academic score.

For the other two groups, the district is seeking state approval to use alternative forms from what the state uses.

In recent years, Pittsburgh has been working to improve principal evaluations through a program known as PULSE. The district wants to continue using the criteria developed under PULSE for gauging professional practice. It would follow the state's framework for how much the elements count: 50 percent for professional practice; 15 percent building-level results; 15 percent teacher correlation data; and 20 percent elective data. The state has not fleshed out all of the definitions.

For non-teaching professionals, the district will follow the state standards: 80 percent observation and 20 percent student outcomes. However, the district wants to use a different form more in keeping with the format of its other evaluations.

Teacher evaluations used to be based only on observation, but this school year school districts across the state are required to count observation for half and student outcomes for the other half.

Education writer Eleanor Chute: or 412-263-1955.

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