Improved teaching and student performance are goals of a committee set to begin work in the Olean City School District early next month.
Under new state Education Department regulations, the district has been ordered to devise a plan for teacher performance evaluations and establish an improvement plan for those found to be unsatisfactory.
The plan will focus on a broad range of professional criteria to be determined through classroom observations, peer review and videotaped assessments, and also will provide for review of other school personnel, including the superintendent. Some of the criteria include teachers' knowledge of subject matter, level of preparation, and methods of collaboration with students, parents and other support personnel.
The Board of Education, meeting Tuesday night, unanimously voted to create the Professional Development Team, to consist of between seven and 13 members to be named by District Superintendent John P. Edwards.
Edwards said the district already evaluates teachers in several ways under Board of Education policies. Some of these evaluation methods may be changed as the new plan is written.
The establishment of the Professional Development Team is not evidence of problems with the teaching staff but is the state's attempt to improve student performance by improving the professional staff, Edwards said.
"This is a new requirement and we'll do whatever needs to be done," Edwards said.
A majority of the team members must be teachers nominated by the teachers union, according to the regulation, and will include the superintendent, representatives of the administrators' organization, at least one parent, one or more curriculum specialists, and at least one representative of a higher education institution.
The plan will analyze the need for professional development, set goals and standards for performance, and determine how the district matches teacher development opportunities with local student learning needs. It also will describe how customized improvement plans can be established for unsatisfactory teachers, who are to be consulted in the process.
A superintendent's performance review also will be part of the plan, which must be returned to the board within six months for acceptance or rejection. A final draft of the plan is to be ready for implementation by next Sept. 1.
In other business, the board reviewed "New York . . . the State of Learning," a status report on public school districts statewide that was released to state legislators in April and received in Olean last month.
"It's reflective of a very healthy school system and is reflective of the population of the city," said Edwards, cautioning board members against comparing Olean with other districts in the report.
The status report summarizes class sizes, fiscal information, instructional statistics, special education information and other data.