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Superintendent Hardy Murphy announced at the District 65 School Board meeting on Dec. 17 that he had reached an agreement with the District Educators Council (DEC, the teachers union) to treat the new teacher appraisal system that was implemented at the start of this school year as a “shadow system.” The new system substantially changes how student growth is used to evaluate teachers. At a series of Board meetings during the last few months, DEC voiced strong opposition to the new system, saying that the methodology is unreliable, flawed and inequitable for a host of reasons.

The District has had a teacher appraisal plan that takes student growth into account since 2010. That model essentially evaluated teachers based on whether more students scored above the 50th percentile at the end of the school year than at the beginning of the year. The new model, which will be treated as a shadow system this year, measures student growth at four different levels of the achievement spectrum.

On Dec. 3, the School Board decided it would vote whether to defer implementation of the appraisal system until the beginning of the 2013-14 school year, with four members saying the Board should vote, and three opposing a vote. Dr. Murphy’s agreement with DEC rendered moot a Board vote on the issue, which had been scheduled for Dec. 17.

Dr. Murphy said the Board has had important and meaningful discussions on the appraisal system during the last few Board meetings. In light of the concerns expressed, he said he was recommending that the system be treated as a shadow system this year. He said this would allow the District to review and statistically verify the model, gain the confidence of teachers in the model, and prepare them for a more rigorous appraisal system.