Local News

November 25, 2013

‘A time of great anxiety’ or ‘great opportunity’?

How Atlanta’s new evaluation system will impact local teachers

(Continued)

Bagley Middle already adopted system

Westmoreland isn’t as worried. Bagley Middle School in Chatsworth, he said, has been inadvertently preparing for the new evaluation system for years by having a similar system in place since 2008.

“We are a standards-based school so we haven’t had to change much to fit (the new system)” he said. “We were ahead of the rest of the ball game.”

The Bagley system involved constant review of test data and lesson plans and instructing teachers to treat students individually, not as a group — all standards in the new state system.

Before the system, Bagley was “not in a good place,” Westmoreland said.

“We had struggling special needs classes, writing scores were not great,” he said. After Westmoreland began the Bagley system “scores went way up,” he said.

Seeing that firsthand gives him faith in the new evaluation system, which he said will force teachers across the state to improve.

“Sometimes teachers just don’t know how to teach,” he said, adding that the new system will crack down on bad teachers and help good teachers become “great ones.”

Amanda Parrot, who teaches at Bagley, said she isn’t worried about the possibility evaluations could determined the size of her paycheck.

“I think we’ve been prepared,” she said. “I don’t think this will be a big shock. Bagley has done a good job preparing us for what is about to happen. I think we will be OK. I think our kids do good and we are good at what we do. So, no. I’m not worried about it.”

Neither is Tammy Rosenberger, who teaches at North Whitfield Middle School. While she doesn’t like the idea that job evaluations could decide how much she makes, she says she is “focused on the now.”

“I think there’s so many positives that outweigh the negatives, or the fears of the negatives,” she said. “There’s a fear of what could come. We have to focus on here and now and for me it has been positive.”

Positive because it has allowed Rosenberger “to grow” and see “strengths and weaknesses.”

Noll said the new system has been “actually validating.”

“When I first saw it, I thought, ‘Oh, man. I’m actually doing what the state wants me to do,’” she said. “None of it was new. None of it was surprising. It was things you should want to be evaluated on.”

But it does bring a lot of extra paperwork, Noll said. The new workload constantly bleeds into her weekend and evenings, she said, which cuts into time with her family.

“I spend a lot of time on it, too,” Rosenberger said. “But I just roll with it.”

Rosenberger said teachers shouldn’t worry because local school leaders “have their backs.”

Noll agreed.

“They’re not going to throw us to the wolves,” she said.

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