How Are We Going to Do this Work?

As I said in yesterday’s blog post, we are conducting a time study of our administrative staff to determine our own efficiency and effectiveness, as well as to analyze how and when we will be able to implement the changes in teacher evaluation and testing as mandated by the New York State Education Department. In this post, I’ll  examine the increases in time required of building level administrators just to implement the new evaluation system, not including the increased time they’ll need for testing and data analysis.

Consider this.

Currently our three building level administrators,  elementary principal Jerry Mottern, high school principal Dave Davison, and special education director of pupil services Mary Rockey, supervise and evaluate 92 teachers and professional staff (guidance counselors, psychologist, OT, PT, Speech, etc.). In our current system, all 16 of our non-tenured teachers are evaluated three times annually. Our 76 tenured teachers are evaluated once annually. Each evaluation takes the administrator about 110 minutes at a minimum. That’s 110 minutes times 76 tenured teachers plus 330 minutes times 16 non-tenured teachers. Under our current evaluation system that results in 13,640 minutes or 227.33 hours. Remember that this doesn’t include the time I spend visiting every classroom or the APPR meetings held with every teacher at the end of the school year or the informal visits to the classrooms by principals and Mary.

For Dave Davison, this means 92 hours spent evaluating teachers; for Jerry Mottern 88 hours spent evaluating teachers; and for Mary Rockey 48 hours spent evaluating teachers UNDER OUR CURRENT SYSTEM.

With the changes mandated by NYSED for evaluating teachers next year, here’s what it will look like in 2012-13. Those same 16 non-tenured teachers will still be evaluated three times annually and the 76 tenured teachers will be evaluated a minimum of twice annually (for this conversation, we’re not even going to consider the time spent with teachers who perform at an ineffective or developing range and have to go on a Teacher Improvement Plan).  Under the new evaluation system, we estimate that each evaluation will take a minimum of 240 minutes. The 240 minutes includes  the required pre-observation meeting, the evaluation, time to write up the evaluation, and the post evaluation conversation. That’s 480 minutes times 76 tenured teachers plus 720  minutes times 16 non-tenured teachers. Under the new evaluation system that results in 48,000 minutes or 800 hours.

You’re probably thinking by now, well how many hours does a principal work? Consider that while they do work year round, they have a maximum of 181 days to observe teachers. Within the school year, there are 6 hours and 40 minutes of  teaching time per day or 72,400 minutes per year; 1206.67 hours. Of the 1207 hours that our principals and special ed director are working with teachers and students, at least 800 of them will be needed for evaluation: 328 hours (27%) for high school; 324  hours (27%) for elementary school; and 148 hours (12%) for special education. As compared to the 8% of time at the HS now on evaluation, 7% ES, or 4% special education. Consider the change alone—what a huge increase! For Dave Davison, that’s a 237.5% increase in time spent on evaluations; for Jerry Mottern, a 285.7% increase; and for Mary Rockey a 200% increase.

If  NYSED is now requiring that roughly 25% of our administrators’ time be spent in formal evaluations, and that’s the minimum required, I wonder how they will get it all done well. I’ve been a building principal and there are management duties that simply must take place. Some can be extremely time consuming and some will have to take precedence over those observations: talking to and meeting with parents; listening to students and solving problems; listening to our teachers; discipline (we have a Dean of Students, but he doesn’t do all discipline);  evaluating support staff, teaching aides, cleaning and custodial staff; solving bus and personnel and scheduling problems; completing endless paperwork for SED and the Business Office; budgeting; supervising the athletic program at the HS level; running or attending meetings for CSE, CST, department leader, content area or grade level, faculty, admin team, etc.; state and interim testing supervision; planning and most important program implementation and follow through, something that often gets short shrift and is vital to our improvement.

That may seem very reasonable as an expectation for a building level administrator. You may be asking “why can’t they accomplish all of that in their work day? They’re well paid and should be able to do whatever is  expected”. My answer? They will get it all done, but to what degree of excellence with that increase to work load?  We’re not aiming for the status quo and nothing more. I want us to do all of it really well, significantly impacting what’s happening in our classrooms toward school improvement at the same time that we’re still doing a good job of managing our buildings. If you’ve never been a building principal, don’t judge this–you’ve honestly no idea what they do all day. You’re simply not qualified to judge. Neither was I until I did it.  It’s the hardest job I’ve ever done in regard to time consuming, mentally exhausting, non-stop action and demands on my time and energy.

Those are the numbers behind our discussions about how we do business, about how we’re configured currently as an admin team. That’s why we’re examining all of our roles and responsibilities to determine our best course of action moving forward. We’ll consider this and more as we continue to discuss all of the options with the BOE. We are NOT considering adding another administrator to do the work. Instead we’re looking at what we all do now, how we pay BOCES for a three day per week curriculum coordinator who cannot evaluate teachers and a Teacher on Special Assignment for discipline who cannot evaluate teachers, and analyzing if there are things we could change and do better.

I’m not sure what our end result will be. We may continue as we are. I’m certain that I’ll be picking up a portion of the evaluations and I’m not yet sure how that will affect the mandated appeal process for teachers. I’m sure we have a hard working administrative team who wants to do it well. Beyond what SED has required that results in unfunded mandates and increases to our expenses (like staff development in the new evaluation system and purchase of the locally selected assessments), we will not do it on the backs of our taxpayers.

You’re always welcome to join us at the BOE meetings for the discussion or to call, drop me an email, invite me to come to you to talk about the issues, or stop by to see me. We’ll figure it out, it’s just going to take a bit of collaboration, analysis and careful thought.

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  3. Sounds like SED is in Steve Jobs reality distortion field. When you think of it, an unreasonable teacher evaluation plan isn’t much different than expecting all children to be proficient (a some arbitrary level) by 2014. The king has no clothes. Education is the only business stuck in the 19th century. Every real business has had to change to survive. Education is resistant to change due to its structure. When you expect everyone of the same age to learn the same thing at the same time at the same pace, what do you expect? Read some of my book summaries at DrDougGreen.Com for more why we need a radicle overhaul.

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