AUGUSTA – The panel charged with pre-approving teacher evaluation techniques that use student data gets to work Tuesday.

The six-member task force has a May 14 deadline for reviewing and approving at least one such evaluation model for school districts to use.

It’s a condition Maine must meet before it can apply for up to $75 million in federal funds aimed at education reform in the federal competition known as Race to the Top.

The two models the state Department of Education is asking panel members to consider are the Teacher Advancement Program and the Framework for Teaching.

Panel members include representatives from the department; the state teachers’ union; and groups representing superintendents, principals, school boards and special education directors.

“It is a starting point for discussion,” said David Connerty-Marin, department spokesman.

More than 130 schools in 14 states and Washington use the Teacher Advancement Program, according to a 2009 research paper by the National Education Association.

The evaluation system rewards teachers who take on additional responsibilities, including mentoring, developing curriculum and overseeing training.

Under the 10-year-old program, certified evaluators — including mentors and principals — rate each teacher’s performance.

The program’s architects recommend that teachers’ pay be based 50 percent on those evaluations, 30 percent on individual students’ academic progress and 20 percent on the academic progress of an entire school.

One study, by the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, found that schools in six states using the Teacher Advancement Program outperformed schools not using the program.

The Teacher Advancement Program meets all the criteria the U.S. government is looking for as it pushes states to evaluate teachers and principals with student academic data, according to Connerty-Marin.

“That obviously makes that one a good choice,” Connerty-Marinsaid.

The Framework for Teaching doesn’t include student data as an element in teacher evaluations. But Connerty-Marin said evaluation panel members might want to add student data to the model’s evaluation criteria.

A number of Maine school districts are already using the Framework for Teaching, according to the Department of Education.

“Given that many districts are already using it,” Connerty-Marin said, “it certainly seemed like a reasonable starting point for discussion.”

Under the framework, teachers are rated based on their planning and preparation, classroom environment, instructional quality and the professional responsibilities they assume.

Dick Durost, executive director of the Maine Principals’ Association, said it was too early to comment on either of the evaluation models. But he questioned whether the six-member panel could meet its May 14 deadline.

“This whole process right now is an extremely aggressive timeline for the high level of work that we’re supposed to do,” he said.

Gov. John Baldacci set the May 14 deadline last week so Maine would have an approved evaluation model in time for the June 1 Race to the Top application deadline.

Attorney General Janet Mills has to sign the application, certifying that Maine law allows teacher evaluations that incorporate student data.

“We think that given these two models and others that the stakeholders may want to look at, that we could come up with one fairly quickly,” Connerty-Marin said.


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