Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dorsey Hopson will reconvene a group of teachers and administrators to discuss the district’s revised teacher evaluation.

The committee stopped meeting when teachers couldn’t agree to two sticking points – the requirement for teachers to demonstrate all 69 objectives during an observation and the absence of an appeals process to dispute an observation score, according to a teacher on the committee. Administrators made the changes without the committee’s approval, said Margaret Box, a kindergarten teacher at Cordova Elementary who served on the committee.

Hundreds of teachers have complained to Hopson and board members that the new requirements will make it virtually impossible for any teacher to earn a level five, the highest level possible.

Administrators have said that observations have lead to inflated scores of teachers at chronically-underperforming schools while teachers have described the process as arbitrary and unfair.

“We felt like we didn’t get to finish the conversation,” said Box, adding that the group of 10 teachers worked hard during the eight month period and the committee and the administration agreed on seven of the nine revisions.  “We’re very hopeful and we’re glad he’s reached out. We think this is a positive move.”

Hopson sent an e-mail to teachers on the committee late last week asking to meet with him on Sept. 16. He hinted in a letter to teachers last month that he would meet with the teachers again to hear their concerns.

“I would like to thank those of you who collaborated on the development of the new TEM4.0,” Hopson wrote.  I know that teams of teachers met more than a dozen times dating back to early spring, and I believe this strong feedback helped us take a real leap forward with this year’s rubric. I’m looking forward to my next meeting with teachers regarding TEM4.0 next month, and I’m interested in hearing more from you on this as we move through the rest of the school year.”

Meanwhile, a previously-arranged forum between Hopson and teachers throughout the district scheduled for this week appears to have been called off.  Hopson told teachers in an Aug. 22 letter that he would meet with them on Thursday to hear their concerns about the revised evaluation. But in an e-mail Tuesday, the communications office said Hopson did not have any meetings scheduled with teachers this week.

The district’s administrators have maintained the final version of the Teacher Evaluation Model, or TEM 4, is a direct reflection of teacher feedback on several issues including a reduction in the total number of observations, allowing teachers to provide an evaluation of their work and how walk-throughs or random classroom visits from administrators would be conducted.

The office did not immediately respond to Chalkbeat’s inquiry about Hopson’s meeting with the committee made up administrators and a group of 10 teachers scheduled for Sept. 16.

Officials believe the changes are a significant step forward in giving teachers clear and meaningful feedback to help students achieve ambitious learning goals.

Contact Tajuana Cheshier at tcheshier@chalkbeat.org and (901) 730-4013.

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