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City schools feverishly ‘Race to the Top’ PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, February 07, 2013 2:29 PM

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DELPHOS — As one of 480 school districts in Ohio participating in the federally-funded Race to the Top initiative, Delphos City Schools adminstrators and educators are using the third year of the program to meet state-mandated assessments.

Jefferson High School’s Principal John Edinger said Phase III of Race to the Top primarily deals with Ohio Teacher/Principal Evaluation Systems (OTES), which are common core standards measuring education effectiveness, including student growth and educator observations.
“Ohio teachers have been working hard. With all the new things thrown at them, we are doing our best to lay out the program, tweak the rubric and document instructor feedback,” Edinger said. “The biggest pitfall may be trying to keep that pace.”

The $4.35 billion Race to the Top Fund is an unprecedented federal investment in reform and includes $4 billion for statewide reform grants and $350 million to support states working together to improve the quality of their assessments and lead the way in comprehensive, coherent, statewide education reform.

Ohio began development of its OTES prior to receipt of its Race to the Top grant in 2010. The OTES includes a self-assessment against the Ohio Standards for the Teaching Profession, analysis of student data, multiple formal observations, formative assessments, collection of evidence/artifacts and perception data, student growth data, a written cumulative evaluation and an improvement plan.

Principal evaluations are measured by student performance data derived from attendance records, graduation rates, the number of suspensions and expulsions, the percentage of students in Advanced Placement (AP) classes and personal performance rubrics based on state standards.
“Every building is responsible for their own data — teacher evaluations and common core standards — which takes a lot of professional time,” Edinger added. “The new mapping of standards to our curriculum — horizontal and vertical alignment of a student’s education — will ensure the best comprehensive instruction possible.”

To ensure teachers the best possible resources inside and outside the classroom, Delphos City Schools have adopted Thinkgate as their IIS (Instructional Improvement System). Thinkgate is a web-based tool designed with customizable components called Elements, which integrates data and resources composed of five areas, including Assessment, Instructional, Learning and Strategic Management Systems and Student Informational Systems. The system will expedite staff collaboration, allowing improvement of each teacher’s skill-set. In addition, each student will have equal access to high-quality learning materials inside and outside of class, be challenged to demonstrate learning before transitioning to new material and know where he or she stands in a given subject based on performance data.

“The community needs to learn more about the system,” Edinger stressed. “It is important they understand the rigor of the new curriculum; it will build stronger, college-ready students.”

Edinger and his staff are currently working on completing a succession of three webinars to learn about Thinkgate. The first session was an introduction and overview of the program, the second was a “live” hour-long training on multi-functional users and the third will focus on curriculum, instruction and resources.

“Our priority is professional development,” Edinger emphasized. “Even when faced with daily challenges and uncontrollable variables, we are always focused on improving the classroom environment and reaching each student.”

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