Teachers opposed to a new system for evaluating their performance in Evanston/Skokie School District 65 have won at least a year’s delay of the new scheme.

After three heated board meetings at which teachers turned out in force to oppose the new evaluation system, School Superintendent Hardy Murphy told the board Monday that he’d reached an agreement with union officials to delay the new system — which he had initially put into place this fall.

At the board’s last meeting, Dec. 3, it appeared a majority of board members wanted vote on the new evaluation plan, while a minority of the board favored leaving the decision up to the administration.

It wasn’t clear whether those who wanted a board vote would have rejected the plan, but several expressed misgivings about it.

Teacher concerns, in partt, centered on the plan’s approach of looking separately at  the amount of progress students in each of four performance quartiles make over the course of a year.

With each such group having as few as six students, the teachers complained, there could be wide variations in peformance as a result of random variations beyond a teacher’s control.

But Murphy had said segmenting by student performance level was important to achieving equity –including addressing problems that have seen initially high-performing minority students fall behind as they progress through the school system.

Monday night Murphy indicated that he wanted to avoid a board vote on the issue, saying he believes “evaluations are management’s responsibility.”

But he said the delay would give time to judge what the impact of the new standards would be and test their statistical validity as well as providing an opportunity to prepare teachers for the more rigorous evaluation standards.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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