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Hopson says he is committed to compromise with teachers on evaluation dispute

Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dorsey Hopson II said Friday he is willing to compromise on a revised teacher evaluation, which was widely protested by teachers last month for lacking an appeals process and requiring teachers to meet all objectives to receive the highest score.

“We had a very good meeting, and I heard their concerns loud and clear,” Hopson said Friday afternoon.  “We have to balance their requested changes around the practicality around implementation.”

Hopson met with teachers on Tuesday and plans to give them a decision sometime next week.  His opinion about Tuesday’s meeting with several teachers is in stark contrast from the Memphis-Shelby County Education Association President Keith Williams, who was doubtful that the changes teachers wanted would happen.

The current observation model requires teachers to demonstrate all 69 objectives in order to receive the highest score.

The local teachers’ advocacy group questioned how the district intended to use observations if teachers lacked an appeals process and required teachers to meet all objectives.

“The teacher observation process seems to be more focused on getting rid of teachers rather than improving their performance in the classroom,” said Ken Foster, executive director of the Memphis-Shelby County Education Association. “Requiring teachers to meet ALL the objectives in order for a teacher to earn a 4 or 5 means what the district is really saying is they don’t want any teacher to get a 4 or 5. It’s impossible for an observer to observe 69 objectives during a single class period.  The observations don’t seem to be set up for teachers to earn above a 3.”

Hopson disagrees.

“Observations are not meant to be punitive, but to help teachers improve,” Hopson said. “We’re still committed to figure out a compromise.”

Hopson admitted some teachers are struggling with morale.  But Hopson said he has heard positive feedback from teachers about some of very issues that other teachers have protested about as well  such as the bonus pay plan and mutual consent hiring.

Hopson said observers have already conducted about 40 observations of classroom teachers this school year and hundreds more observations were scheduled for the coming weeks.  If Hopson changes the evaluation, the district must have the revised observation model, TEM 4, approved by the state and also provide additional training for observers.

Contact Tajuana Cheshier at tcheshier@chalkbeat.org and (901) 730-4013.

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