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State's teacher evaluation process will miss deadline

PIERRE -- The state Board of Education will miss the Legislature's July 1 deadline for setting rules to establish minimum performance standards for certified teachers in South Dakota's public schools and establish best practices that school distr...

PIERRE -- The state Board of Education will miss the Legislature's July 1 deadline for setting rules to establish minimum performance standards for certified teachers in South Dakota's public schools and establish best practices that school districts can use to evaluate teachers. But the board now has a definite timeline and an official proposal.

State Education Secretary Melody Schopp has recommended a one-sentence rule that says the department "will adopt the Charlotte Danielson framework for professional teaching standards to provide a basis for teaching and evaluation."

The state board agreed Monday to hold a rules hearing at its next meeting July 18-19 in Pierre regarding that single sentence. There is no further explanation of the Danielson framework nor is there a date referring to the version of it.

Assuming the Schopp language is adopted, the Legislature's rules review committee would have final say at the panel's Aug. 30 meeting on whether it takes effect and whether one sentence is sufficiently substantial to comply with the law.

The Legislature passed the teaching evaluation requirement in the 2010 session and then-Gov. Mike Rounds signed SB 24 into law more than 14 months ago.

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The law requires each public school district to adopt evaluation standards and to conduct evaluations on a regular basis. Teachers during contract years one through three must be evaluated at least annually. Teachers with four contract years or more of experience must be evaluated at least once every two years.

Developed in 2007, the Danielson framework has four domains -- planning and preparation, classroom environment, professional responsibilities and instruction -- with 22 subtopics and more than 75 individual criteria.

A working group with membership quotas set by the 2010 law recommended the Danielson approach. The group looked at what's used in nine other states and what's recommended by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

The group now needs to develop and submit recommendations to the state board for school districts to use in conducting teacher evaluations. Schopp told the state board Monday that will be much more difficult to accomplish.

The group has eight teachers -- Lisa Handcock of Onida/Agar/Blunt; Tom Mead of Spearfish; Kira Christensen of Sioux Falls; Darlene Dulitz of Webster; Alayna Siemonsma of Rapid City; Amelia Rose of Rapid City; Sue Podoll of Rapid City; and Lynn Lagner of Watertown -- along with principals Kevin Lein of Harrisburg, Susan Patrick of Watertown, Anne Williams of Sioux Falls and Mike Taplett of Huron.

Other members include superintendents Margo Heinert of Todd County and Dave Pappone of Brandon, along with school board representatives Duane Alm of Aberdeen and Bev Banks of Belle Fourche. The parent slots in the group were filled by Jill Kruger of Pierre, Jill Dean of Pierre, Stacy Kolbeck of Pierre, Melissa Whipple of Todd County and Mary Stadick Smith of Pierre. Smith is now the department's deputy secretary.

The professional organization seats in the group are held by Sandy Arsenault of the South Dakota Education Association, John Pederson for the school administrators and Wayne Lueders from the Associated School Boards of South Dakota. The final member is University of South Dakota education dean Rick Melmer.

After five meetings, the working group delivered its recommendation of the Danielson model last fall. The rule-making part of the process fell behind after the November statewide election, however, during the transition from the Rounds administration to the new administration of Gov. Dennis Daugaard.

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Secretary Tom Oster wasn't retained by Daugaard. Instead, Schopp, who was Oster's deputy, was named as interim secretary, while Daugaard's search committee screened possible nominees for the post.

Oster's original timeline called for the Danielson framework to have a public hearing in March. Schopp was given the full appointment by Daugaard on April 7, after the state board's March meeting.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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