Plans aim to lift teacher performance

Published 8:53 pm Saturday, August 25, 2012

After disappointing 2012 math Standards of Learning pass rates, Suffolk Public Schools says more math teachers will find themselves on improvement plans if they fail to implement directives designed to lift student performance.

Improvement plans are “designed to put specific supports in place in order to assist a teacher to grow and improve in documented area(s) of concerns as noted by an administrator,” district Human Resources Director Leigh Bennett wrote in an email.

Plans involve intervention strategies coupled with “assessment procedures with dates of completion.”

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“Ideally, both the administrator and teacher agree on the area(s) of needed improvement and collaborate to build a plan for success,” Bennett continued.

Five teachers are on improvement plans extending from the previous school year to 2012-2013, Bennett wrote, including two elementary special education teachers, a high school history teacher and two high school math teachers.

Data to compare the number of teachers on plans to previous periods is unavailable, she added.

She explained that teachers are taken off plans when “expected progress” has been achieved after intervention strategies and assessment procedures have been completed.

“If the teacher has not met the deadlines of the plan and the expected progress is not achieved, then the administrator may recommend non-renewal of employment,” she wrote.

Suffolk’s division-wide SOL pass rates ranged from 43 percent for Algebra II to 63 percent for Algebra I, representing decreases from last year ranging from 17 percent for geometry to 44 percent for Algebra II.

Numerous factors have been blamed for the poor results, and numerous remedies suggested. Teacher improvement plans were briefly discussed by district Deputy Superintendent Jacqueline Chavis when early SOL results were presented to a recent School Board meeting.

“Placing more math teachers on a performance plan will depend on how the teachers support the schools’ annual improvement plans and the district-wide plan for improvement, which is currently under revision,” Bennett wrote.

Student achievement will be improved if teachers support and implement the plans’ “instructional strategies and suggestions,” according to Bennett.

Administrators will develop performance plans for teachers if, conversely, they ignore directives and “students are not progressing academically as expected” by meeting nine-week benchmarks.

Bennett says that improvement plans work best when the teacher and administrator work together and agree on the improvements needed. “It is then up to the teacher to ‘work the plan,’ and the administrator is responsible for monitoring the plan and being accessible to the teacher for continued support and assistance,” she wrote.