Schools to use grant  to train

HARVEY — The Jefferson Parish Public School System received a $300,000 grant from the Gates Foundation on Thursday that it will use to support this year’s state-mandated implementation of a new teacher evaluation system.

Specifically, the district said the money will go toward training for principals, assistant principals and teacher leaders as “evaluators” in rating teacher performance.

Louisiana’s comprehensive evaluation model, known as Compass (Clear, Overall Measure of their Performance to Analyze and Support Success), was mandated to begin in the 2012-13 school year.

The law was passed by state lawmakers in 2010 to address what they saw as shortcomings in the teacher performance evaluation process, requiring a new procedure “designed to capture the cumulative impact a teacher has on his or her students’ growth over the course of an academic year,” according to the Louisiana Department of Education.”

The program is also designed to provide support to teachers in targeted areas of need.

“These grant funds will help support a critical need in the district as we begin implementation of Compass,” said acting Superintendent James Meza.

“In addition to ensuring that our principals are well trained in rating teacher performance, we believe that building a small cohort of trained teacher leaders will strengthen the implementation of Compass significantly.”

The district uses the Framework for Teaching Proficiency System, a program designed to help school leaders build skills while evaluating teachers within Compass.

The program offers 15 hours of focused training on evaluating teachers, including a final certification proficiency test, which is designed to ensure teachers are being rated accurately, objectively and consistently by their evaluators.

Going into the second year of the Compass implementation, the district plans to use some of the funds toward an evaluator certification renewal program.

“We believe the Compass evaluation process, when implemented well, can do a tremendous amount to strengthen our teaching force and develop the instructional leadership skills of our principals, assistant principals, and teacher leaders,” Meza said.

“When executed at a high level, the evaluation cycle will lead to stronger student outcomes.”

The Seattle-based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation works to address health, poverty and education issues across the globe.

In the United States, the foundation’s stated goal is to “ensure that all people — especially those with the fewest resources — have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life.”