During the Jan. 19 Douglas County School Board meeting, board member David Ray proposed a new districtwide survey that would look at how teachers’ time is being spent.
“The purpose was to resolve that we do everything possible to protect …
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“The purpose was to resolve that we do everything possible to protect student instructional time,” Ray said. “There have been too many distractions that have resulted in much undue stress on our teachers and their ability to teach.”
Ray hopes to find out how much time teachers are spending on plans, evaluations and the uploading of assessment materials.
“How much time does it take for a teacher to develop a backward plan? How much time does it take a teacher to upload performance evidence in InspireEd? How much time does it take a teacher to complete the new Elementary Progress Report? How much time does it take teachers to navigate the GVC (Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum) and conduct benchmark assessments?,” Ray asked.
A number of district teachers spoke at the meeting in support of Ray’s proposal.
Jane Anttila has been a teacher in the district for almost 22 years. She currently works with about 100 gifted or highly able students at different elementary schools in Douglas County.
“As I told Director (Wendy) Vogel when she came to our school last week, every single night at home and every single day at work, I have to make a choice on working on CITE requirements or preparing and teaching the students,” Anttila said. “No surprise, I choose the kids, which means I am frantically trying to get my backwards plans done and CITE evidence in order in my nonexistent spare time, which of course, will happen at home.”
CITE is the district’s teacher evaluation system.
Niki Mitchell is a kindergarten teacher at Saddle Ranch Elementary and has been teaching in the district for 23 years.
She said over the past several years there has been a disconnect between what teachers are doing in the classroom versus what is required in evaluations.
“How is this making me a better teacher? It isn’t. In fact, just the opposite. It’s draining me physically and mentally,” Mitchell said. “ I’m good at what I do because I am passionate about kids every day. I am not passionate about backward planning. I’m not passionate about 21st Century skills and I am not passionate about World Class Outcomes.”
The resolution also directs the superintendent to place an immediate moratorium on any new initiative that might result in additional time requirements placed on teachers.
“No more surprises like a new EPR (Elementary Progress Report) or trying out new performance-based assessments,” Ray said. “The pause button needs to be pushed and an accounting taken for what the district’s vision of reinventing education is doing to our teachers and most importantly the impact it is having on our learners.”
The district released a survey compiled in November on Jan. 20. The survey of 1,720 certified staff (teachers) touched on some of the topics in question, including how teachers are educated and supported in completing their assessments and evaluations.
On the statement “I am empowered to take risks, supported by the convergence of the research, regarding what is best for students,” 81 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed. The full survey can be found at dcsdk12.org.
“I think there is overlap. I’m not sure how many people recognize it or think it’s a good overlap,” said board President Meghann Silverthorn. “There are certain folks in the community that advocate for survey that says `We want the district to ask us questions that we want to answer.’ I don’t read minds, so I don’t know what those questions might be.”
The resolution will be brought back to the board for a second reading at the next meeting on Feb. 2.
“My vision for surveys and gathering information is that the initial survey that we did in November is just the beginning,” Silverthorn said. “We started the conversation.”
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