Board Amends Tenure Policy to Improve Teacher Performance by Dr. Tim Markley

A recent news headline states that New Hanover County Schools has adopted a new teacher evaluation system; however, this is not quite accurate. We are not creating a new evaluation process, but are currently in our second year of using the state-mandated evaluation system focusing on teacher growth and student learning. What the Board did last night (12-06-11), was to amend its current Policy 6233 as it relates to the awarding of tenure, to better fit the state’s required evaluation system and to guarantee that teachers who are awarded tenure with our district are of the highest quality.
The revised policy approved last night, states that beginning teachers must be deemed to be “accomplished” in two of the following four instructional standards: Standard II: (Respectful Environment), Standard III: (Content Knowledge), Standard IV: (Facilitate Learning), and Standard VI: (Academic Success), and be proficient or better on all remaining standards at the end of their third and fourth year of employment.
I have always believed that tenure should be earned and not simply given because teachers have completed the minimum standards of performance. Many of the outstanding teachers I have spoken to in our district rate themselves much more stringently than the state requires and have expressed to me that we should be hiring and supporting the best teachers we can find. I believe that raising the bar in the instructional areas of evaluation for our beginning teachers is one way in which we can accomplish this goal.
This district has always set high standards for employees and students. Our athletes meet higher standards to participate in sports; our graduation requirements are higher than the state’s requirements, and our new tenure standards strengthen our status as a high-performing district. While this policy change does not directly impact teachers who have already achieved career status, it sets the tone for the high standards we should all attempt to achieve.

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