Teacher evaluations in Lodi Unified School District are of the tried-and-true style, but changes may be coming.
For most Lodi teachers, evaluations mean the principal will spend an hour or so in the classroom observing a lesson on reading, or watching how the teacher explains a new math concept. Later, the teacher and principal will meet up to talk about how the lesson went and what could be improved.
The observation may be planned ahead of time, but principals can also pop into classrooms without prior notice. Occasionally, a teacher may invite a principal to their class if there is a particular lesson they want to share.
If a permanent teacher is in good standing with the school, this observation occurs once every two years, for a single lesson. Temporary teachers or those on probation are evaluated annually.
Either way, it generally happens in the first few months of the school year. Later in the year, teachers receive a note of their evaluation, based only on observation from that school year.
Teachers are rated at one of three levels: satisfactory, needs improvement and unsatisfactory. On the "needs improvement" track, teachers are given an improvement plan and are expected to achieve goals set by their principal. Once a teacher's conduct is determined unsatisfactory, they are in danger of a facing a hearing and possibly losing their job.
Jeff Johnston, president of the Lodi Education Association, says the system works well, but it does not aim to fire teachers.
"The goal of the observation-evaluation process is to improve instruction. It is not specifically to fire anybody. The goal is to provide students with the highest quality instruction," he said.
The observation-evaluation process is on the union bargaining table for teacher contracts.
"We're examining our own processes and continuing to have a dialogue of what, if any, changes we may need as we go forward," said Johnston.
Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at firstname.lastname@example.org.