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When the 2016-2017 school year begins, one Texas school district will be taking a unique approach to teacher evaluations and assessments. The Lewisville Independent School District will begin a pilot program that eliminates a scoring system as part of teacher evaluations.

Instead, the Lewisville Educator Assessment and Development (LEAD) system will focus on setting and meeting goals.

A committee of principals and teachers has been working on the creation of this system since 2014, with the Lewisville Independent School District Board of Trustees approving the new plan in time for the 2016-17 school year. Under the District Improvement Plan, administrators are instructed to “develop and implement meaningful, varied assessments that inform and inspire students and educators for continuous improvement and growth in a way that transforms learning and teaching.” LEAD was designed with that goal in mind, according to school officials.

According to Amy Acosta, the assistant principal at Timber Creek Elementary, the pilot program recognizes the individual traits of teachers. “Their experience is different, their skill sets are different, their talents are different, and their areas identified for growth are different,” she told The Leader, an online publication of Star Local Media.

As a result, the LEAD evaluations will be more customized with those differences in mind. Teachers will be evaluated on professional growth and goal-setting approaches with LEAD more than the current system allows. The first step is a meeting at the start of the school year with the principal and teacher. During this meeting, they set goals together to establish areas for the teacher’s innovative growth. Those goals will be based on class-specific needs for learning outcomes and growth.

This encourages teachers to continually look back throughout the school year and reflect on their progress in reaching their goals. It also allows them time to make adjustments on their approaches to teaching if they see a need to do so, according to district officials. Teachers will start the new system using the previous school year’s data as a baseline.

There are multiple categories in the teacher evaluation, including the learning environment created by teachers, planning and instruction, and connecting with colleagues and the community. Student growth also is a category, but establishing what that will look like is yet to be determined, the committee said.

This pilot system provides a variety of teacher observation methods. There are appointed people within the school district whom a teacher can go to for real-time feedback, instead of waiting for the principal or assistant principal observation to occur.

Sandi Cole, director of the Center on Education Lifelong Learning seems to agree with the value of real-time feedback and peer-to peer dialog. Rather than the evaluations ending with the school year, the LEAD system encourages teacher performance and personal reflection to be made into an ongoing process year after year.

For the 2016-2017 school year, a group from each campus in the district will participate. The Lewisville Independent School District is planning to have the system implemented district-wide by the start of the 2017-2018 school year.

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