Officials get new grading system

Administrators to be judged on school performance

June 21, 2000|By Tanika White | Tanika White,SUN STAFF

School administrators will have to go through a more thorough evaluation next year, including a new self-assessment, the Howard County school board agreed at last night's meeting.

The process will gauge the performance of principals and assistant principals in five areas: interpersonal skills, leadership, strategic planning and vision, performance results and parent-community relations.

Administrators in schools have been evaluated for many years, said Tricia Tidgewell, the district's director of elementary schools, who helped develop the new evaluation process. But the new process is more complete and more detailed.

"All principals new to Howard County or newly promoted are given an opportunity to participate in our mentor-mentee program, and all principals are to develop objectives," Tidgewell said.

Administrators will be required to develop a professional portfolio to share with their evaluators.

The evaluation process was piloted in schools this year. Twenty-four principals were examined using the model.

School district spokeswoman Patti Caplan said the program is part of an attempt by the school system to do a better job holding its employees accountable for student progress. Principals and assistant principals have had their roles redefined to be more focused on student achievement and less on day-to-day administrative minutia.

Caplan said that, in addition to the self-assessment portion of the process, the evaluation is more specific.

In other business, the school board voted on a site for the Northeastern elementary school, scheduled to open in 2003.

Agreement on the site, two parcels of land near Worthington Elementary School, calms a controversy that unsettled the community for several months.

The school board had threatened to condemn James and Joan Baugher's Ellicott City farm to make way for the school, raising the ire of not only the Baughers but also of many county residents and farm activists around Maryland. Dr. Bruce T. Taylor, part-owner of the largest undeveloped plot in Ellicott City, offered his land to the board for the school in March . The property Taylor offered is adjacent to an old county landfill, and County Executive James N. Robey suggested that Taylor's land be combined with the landfill property to produce a site for the school. The site is about 30 acres - 18.2 from the Taylor property, 12.7 from the county.

Some community members balked at that location, saying children would be too close to a potentially dangerous landfill. But school officials said last night that Worthington Elementary is closer to the landfill than the new school would be, and has been at the site for years with no problems.

The board also officially released scores from the most recent Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills, given annually to second-, fourth-, sixth- and ninth-graders. Howard County pupils scored, as a group, in the 74th percentile, which is 24 percentile points above the national norm.

But board members expressed concern that countywide scores don't seem to be going up, despite recent shifts in instruction and class-size reductions in first- and second-grades.

"I wish we could say something had changed, but unfortunately not much has changed," Caplan said.

"Are we doing something to help?" asked Chairwoman Sandra H. French. "Or is it just stable?"

Leslie Wilson, system director of testing, said, "I think it's fairly stable."

French frowned.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.