Judging teachers by their students’ test scores was one of the most highly criticized aspects of the No Child Left Behind Act.
But that changed with the Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced NCLB in December 2015. Federal law no longer requires teachers to be evaluated based on their students’ scores.
Instead, the new law puts more emphasis on professional development—an emphasis Stafford County Schools administrators plan to adopt with a new Teaching and Learning Summit, planned as an annual event.
The School Board voted during its first meeting of the year to commit more than $500,000 to the first four-day summit, to be held this June.
Superintendent Bruce Benson said the funding will come from expected budget savings, such those from partial-year vacancies, during the current fiscal year.
“The easiest way to change student learning is changing teacher learning, and we don’t often make that connection,” said Jan Streich, the new executive director of the newly created Office of Learning and Organizational Development, at a work session in December.
She outlined a plan to offer the four-day event to about one-third of district staff each year. The group of educators involved will rotate, and the event will target established staff, according to the plan.
The summit won’t replace existing professional development programs, such as one for new teachers, and won’t be given to the same staff that participate in those programs, Streich said.
Administrators also plan to make the annual event a kick-off to integrated development and measurement of results.
“The focus of the summit would change based on the needs of the division and the progress we were making,” Benson said.
The district plans to follow teachers involved in the summit and gather a variety of metrics, which will include test scores.
A sample day included a session with a speaker followed by individual and team reflection, roundtables with selected discussion topics, and school improvement planning, according to Streich’s presentation.
At the work session and meeting, board members said they support funding the summit in order to invest in the district’s staff.
“I think it’s an exciting opportunity and I think the neat part about it too is it has been developed by our staff,” board Chairwoman Holly Hazard said.