PENNS MANOR: Principal briefs board on evaluations
March 16, 2013 10:40 AM
by HEATHER BLAKE

KENWOOD — Directors in the Penns Manor Area School District heard from the high school principal Thursday about items he recently covered in a meeting with faculty regarding the new Keystone Exams and changes to teacher evaluations.

Principal Daren Johnston informed the board about the development of a new design on the state Department of Education’s Standards Aligned System website regarding the exams. The portion of the site provides sample questions from each of the three Keystone exams — algebra, biology and literature — from each of four difficulty levels, to give teachers an idea of how difficult the questions on the Keystones can be and the in-depth thinking that students have to do on those exams.

The levels range from basic recall to extended thinking, and in Johnston’s handout, he showed board members samples of questions at each difficulty level while assuring them he was not doing a security breach of the exams or any questions, saying his examples can be found on the state Department of Education’s website.

Johnston also said the Department of Education has created an online session that all teachers have to view, then they have to “take a test to give the test” as part of “strict security measures” the department has implemented to reduce any chance of cheating on the exams.

Johnston also explained to the board the new teacher effectiveness evaluation, required by the Department of Education, that will take place starting next year. The evaluation is based on the Danielson Framework that teachers are familiar with, he said, and is made up of four domains: planning and preparation, classroom environment, instruction and professional responsibilities.

Fifty percent of the evaluation will be observation-based — not only for teachers, Johnston said, but for himself as well. The other 50 percent of the evaluation is broken down into three sections, which “will be new to the teachers”: 15 percent for building-level data, which include PSSA achievement, graduation rate, promotion rate (for elementary school), attendance and AP course participation; 15 percent for teacher-specific data, which include PSSA achievement, Pennsylvania Value-Added Assessment System growth and district rubrics; and 20 percent for elective data, which include projects, portfolios and national tests.

“As an educator, taking a look at the shift at the Keystone tests, taking a look at the way that they will be evaluated — and this is the way a principal will be evaluated too — (it’s) completely different from what they’re used to, what I’m used to, but it’s going to be a big change,” Johnston said.

In other business, the board:

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