Starting with the 2014-15 school year, student performance and growth will play a significant role in South Carolina teachers' evaluations.
Two Beaufort County School District educators are among those picked by the state Department of Education for a 25-member team that will help implement the state's new evaluations.
Alice Walton, the district's head of student services, and Claire Sauls, an instructional coach at Robert Smalls International Academy, will review the system as it is rolled out. The team's feedback will then be used to make the system more effective, Education Department spokesman Dino Teppara said.
Schools and districts around the state will be required to implement the new system, in which teachers and principals will be evaluated by supervisors trained in the new model.
Many educators, such as district superintendent Jeff Moss, said the new system will help ensure teacher quality.
However, others worry that an emphasis on student performance -- especially as the state's academic standards and assessments are changing -- will not accurately represent teachers' work.
Teppara said those concerns are one of the main reasons the advisory team was created.
"We are confident that (the educators) will help us answer some of the questions surrounding student growth," such as the best ways to measure that growth, he said.
The new Expanded Educator Support and Evaluation System was approved by the state Board of Education in June. It keeps classroom observations, Teppara said, but adds student growth into evaluations.
The system is meant to provide more continuous support and evaluation, state education superintendent Mick Zais has said.
The team had its first meetings July 22 and 23 and will continue to meet throughout the year.
Walton declined comment Thursday about her work on the team. Attempts to reach Sauls were unsuccessful.
Teppara said all of the team's work will be made available to the public.
The state's system does not base teacher pay on performance, he said, but it is merely a method for evaluating and observing teachers. Whether teachers should be paid or rewarded for their performance is a separate issue being debated across the state and country, Teppara has said.
Moss said the evaluations will help the Beaufort County School District with its new pay-for-performance system for the upcoming school year. It entails bonuses that will be determined by student growth, but it will not factor in classroom observations conducted by supervisors, according to Moss.
The district will consider several factors -- such as whether a teacher's students are considered gifted and talented, or have learning disabilities -- in determining the bonuses, Moss has said. The state's new evaluations will not factor in to local teachers' bonuses but will help identify those who need help to improve their instruction, Moss added.
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