Educators discuss teacher standards

Published 10:37 pm Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Suffolk Public Schools officials were among hundreds of educators from throughout South Hampton Roads who gathered for a regional conference on education Tuesday.

Education officials from Suffolk, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Portsmouth met for the first Hampton Roads Regional Public Schools Education Symposium at the Chesapeake Conference Center.

Superintendents and school board chairs from each of the cities spoke at the conference, covering recent changes in education, ever-pressing budget limitations and the need for a regional mindset on education.

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Superintendent Deran Whitney and School Board chairman Michael J. Debranski spoke on behalf of Suffolk at the conference.

“The role of school boards has changed over the last several decades,” Debranski said. “We have come under more scrutiny than ever. School boards have to learn to adapt and adjust.”

He added school boards need to take their jobs seriously to ensure the education systems are running effectively for all of the students.

The other school board chairmen also discussed the changing role of the groups and expressed hope for more regional cooperation in public education.

During the conference, the cities’ superintendents discussed topics of their choice in front of a group of educators and community members.

Whitney discussed Virginia’s new expectations for teacher evaluations, which were released last year and will go into effect July 1.

He said the biggest change is that student academic progress will account for 40 percent of the teacher’s overall performance score.

Standards of Learning test results will be used to help measure teacher effectiveness, he said, but the scores will not be the only factor considered.

“We also must consider multiple measures,” he said.

Some of the other ways student achievement can be measured include teacher observation and academic progress based on growth models for students.

Whitney said the main beneficiaries of the new standards for teacher evaluations are the students.

“When we talk about outstanding teachers, we’re talking about great student achievement,” he said.

The other superintendents discussed the Virginia Association of School Superintendents’ Blueprint for Education, new school construction, Adequate Yearly Progress and financing public education.