Schools, teachers consider new evaluations

The Portland Tribune, Dec. 16, 2010

When it comes to improving schools, many agree that access to rigorous classes, lots of support and modernized school buildings help – but student success really boils down to onething: strong classroom teaching. 


Two years ago, the Portland School District and Portland Association of Teachers agreed to tackle the subject when the next round of bargaining starts in January.

It’s considered a political hot-potato, however, because no one wants to label teachers as “bad,” and also because it’s subject to the technical machinations of bargaining. Now, finally, the issue will get its time in the light, and major changes may be in store

Now, finally, the issue will get its time in the light, and major changes may be in store.


“I’m pretty positive we can work with the district and come up with a fair, equitable evaluation teachers could support,” says Rick Kolinsky, a Lincoln High School teacher who chairs the union’s five-person teacher evaluation bargaining team.

The committee will look at updating the district’s Teacher Evaluation Process Handbook and recommend changes to Superintendent Carole Smith by the end of the 2010-11 school year. Both the district and the union must agree to the changes.


Smith says the district is on board, and she’s excited about the collaborative efforts so far by the district-union work group that’s been meeting to discuss the issue prior to formal bargaining.

The team of teachers, principals and administrators is “jointly invested in coming up with a better tool that lets us provide quality feedback to teachers,” she says. “Something that’s more descriptive of their performance, that lays out expectations as opposed to a letter” indicating their work is satisfactory or unsatisfactory.

Both she and teachers like Kolinsky are looking at the pilot project at Roosevelt High School as inspiration. Read more

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