Published in the January 18, 2018 edition


NORTH READING — As requested by the School Committee, Superintendent Jon Bernard provided a mid-year update Jan. 8 on the progress of educator evaluations that are mandated by the state Department of Education.

These evaluations have been in place for five years. Educators do a self-assessment based on templates provided by the state and identifying areas where they feel as they could improve as teachers. This self-evaluation then leads to a set of goals and ultimately an action plan.

Individual teacher’s plans are then reviewed buy a primary evaluator and administrative evaluator. Most teachers in the North Reading Public Schools are evaluated on a two-year cycle, the exception being new teachers who may be on a one-year evaluation schedule.

According to Bernard the district has embraced this evaluation system and has worked at it aggressively.

School board member Julie Koepke expressed concerns about time taken away from teaching, with so much emphasis on evaluation. “You shouldn’t always have to be performing; you should be teaching,” she said.

Bernard admitted the process could be cumbersome with some evaluators having as many as 27 individuals who they are responsible to assess. 

School Committee Vice Chairman Jerry Venezia asked if the evaluations are proceeding on time.

Bernard indicated they were. Koepke ended her comments by saying, “less is more.”

In a subsequent interview by the Transcript after the meeting Bernard said he personally believes in the process because it fosters conversations. “I have seen teachers write and rewrite goals to make them as good as they can be. By identifying areas that need improvement, it allows teachers to stretch,” he said.