The Newburg R-II School Board last week heard a presentation on the Network for Educator Effectiveness (NEE) teacher evaluation system that Superintendent John Westerman said school officials are leaning toward using.

The Newburg R-II School Board last week heard a presentation on the Network for Educator Effectiveness (NEE) teacher evaluation system that Superintendent John Westerman said school officials are leaning toward using.

As part of the deal for Missouri to be granted a waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act last summer, by the 2014-15 school year, all schools in Missouri will have to adopt a teacher evaluation system that has seven research-based essential principles set by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

Currently, districts have four options for teacher evaluation systems — the DESE model, the NEE model, a commercial or for-profit vendor model or inventing their own model.

The College of Education at the University of Missouri has developed the NEE system, which “is out in front of the state in terms of a model for teacher evaluation,” according to Bob Simpson, project director for NEE.

During the Jan. 29 Newburg School Board meeting, Simpson explained the NEE evaluation system, which he said is “much preferable because it is a growth model that gives teachers and principals tools for growth. Particularly, schools in Class 1, Class 2, Class 3 really like our model because of the resources that we’re able to bring to bear in terms of professional development.

“In essence, what we’ve done is we’ve taken two things that were in the past viewed separately — professional development and teacher evaluation — and we’ve blended them,” Simpson said. “This matches strengths and weaknesses with professional development.”

Simpson said when schools implement the NEE system, they would be compliant with and even exceed the seven principles set by DESE.

Simpson said in the past, MU performed evaluations only in terms of compliance.
“We wanted to make sure teachers met that minimum level of compliance,” he said, but noted that evaluators would not look at any hard data.

“This system changes that paradigm. Instead of evaluating for compliance, we’re evaluating for growth.”

One notable difference between the NEE and DESE evaluation systems is that the NEE system is web-based. Principals or administrators can use iPads or laptops when making their evaluations and enter the data from the electronic devices into a database.

The data is sent to be stored on a secure server at MU. Individual teachers can see their own formative assessment, the principal has access to all of the evaluations of teachers in his or her building and the superintendent has access to the entire district worth of data. Each district owns its own data, Simpson said.

The system allows for teacher data to be transferred to another building in the same district but teacher data will not be transferred to another district if the teacher changes districts.

“With our system (NEE), instead of just a couple drop-ins per year, we ask administrators to get six to eight unannounced drop-ins,” Simpson said.

After the evaluation, teachers will receive an email informing them that their data has been entered and to expect a conference with their principals within 24 hours. The university will train principals how to give teachers feedback.

“It’s really designed to be a ‘grow-you’ system not a ‘gotcha’ system, which is also a problem of the past,” Simpson said.

Principals who use this system are asked to attend a three-day training session, usually over the summer. That cost is about $1,300 per administrator and there is subscription fee of $12 per teacher annually for data storage on the server, Simpson said.

In the past, teachers were scored based on three options — meets expectations, exceeds expectations or needs improvement — but Simpson said that didn’t give teachers a lot of specific feedback.

The NEE system has a seven-point scale, which Simpson said would include specific feedback and would be the same across school districts in Missouri.

“We want a seven to look the same in St. Joseph as it does in Ste. Genevieve and across the whole state, which again that’s a different paradigm from what we’ve had in Missouri,” Simpson said.

In the pilot implementation year, MU has about 33 school districts in the system and 120 school districts signed up to come into system this summer.

The Newburg R-II School District is not one of those at the moment, but Westerman told The Rolla Daily News that school officials are leaning toward using the NEE system.

Simpson said about half of the schools in the Frisco League Conference Schools, which Newburg is part of, have expressed strong interest in the NEE system.