Fremont Elementary School teacher Brittni Winkler recently was evaluated for her performance in the classroom and says the collaborative process with her principal and administration is making her a more effective educator.
Statewide assessments of Nevada teachers like Winkler help determine their success in the classroom through the Nevada Educator Performance Framework. Winkler embraces the opportunity to learn how well she helps her students achieve growth and accounts for her own professional practices.
“I really have just grown a lot using the NEPF,” Winkler said. “It doesn’t matter, the score, really. Any score is a point of growth, and as long as the teacher and the administrator can see it as that, which I’ve only seen, it’s just a place for growth. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad teacher.”
In Carson City this year, 97 percent of 402 teachers have been rated as effective or higher according to the NEPF, associate superintendent of human resources Dan Sadler told the school board this month. The ratings also evaluated CCSD’s school administrators, counselors, nurses, psychologists, librarians and social workers.
Student performance did not figure into teachers’ feedback during the 2021-22 school year.
Sadler said the state did not require student learning goals to be a part of the focus for teacher performance, but Carson City kept it in place as a part of good practice. Next year, SLGs will be reincorporated at 15 percent of scores for all Nevada teachers.
The following is the breakdown for Carson City’s results according to NDE’s scoring breakdown. Educators who received an exempt rating indicated they had received a highly effective score for two consecutive years before 2021-22 and therefore weren’t rated this year:
• Of 24 administrators, 15 were ranked effective, seven were highly effective and two were exempt.
• Of 14 school counselors, seven were effective, five were highly effective and two were exempt.
• Of six school nurses, five were effective and one was exempt.
• Of five school psychologists, all were exempt.
• Of 11 school social workers, one was developing, five were effective, four were highly effective and one was exempt.
• Of 10 speech-language pathologists, two were effective, five were highly effective and three were exempt.
• Of three teacher-librarians, two were effective and one was highly effective.
• Of 402 teachers, 11 were developing, 252 were effective with 250 accounting for class size ratio adjustment, 104 were highly effective with 106 accounting for class size ratio adjustment, and 35 were exempt.
Carson City scored its teachers based on 80 percent instructional practice and 20 percent professional responsibilities. Instructional practice standards help teachers focus on new learning and engage students in metacognitive activities, for example. Professional responsibilities are rated on the teacher’s commitment to the school community, their professional obligations, family engagement and student perception.
“Classroom teaching is dynamic, and it changes,” Sadler said. “When we were trained on NEPF, a lesson would take three days, five days or 10 days to show all areas. It’s a collaborative process, and it’s done with more than just two teachers.”
Trustee Mike Walker said it was important to note that receiving a lower score on the rubric of 4 doesn’t indicate one is a bad teacher.
“It’s not always that someone’s underperforming if you get a 2,” Walker said. “It’s designed to be a great conversation between teachers and administrators. Where the state has really done us wrong is tying test scores to teacher evaluations because teachers can’t control how students take those tests, how seriously they take them and, during times like COVID, there are a million things that have impacted those scores.”
Winkler said when she began her teaching career five years ago, she started as an Alternative Route to Licensure candidate, a program that allows teachers to work in the classroom for up to three years as they finish their coursework and testing requirements for licensure. She had her bachelor’s degree and was taking her educational classes.
“NEPF was essential to my growth and my effect in the classroom,” Winkler said. “I feel like I will always need the NEPF as a place to come back to because each year poses new challenges and new students. What works this year might not work next year. I’m a lifelong learner, so this was working last year, but this year, it’s not working.”
Board president Richard Varner said he was happy to see the framework shows Carson has no ineffective teachers.
Sadler said as educators, it’s important to recognize to provide all staff members with support at all levels.
“I think we’re all developing first and foremost,” Sadler said.
At the end, he said he thought Carson City’s teachers are “doing a great job” in the classroom.
Winkler said she thought the addition of the district’s mentoring program is a useful tool and said she assists a newer teacher this year.
“She’s from out of state and we’ve been going over the NEPF, and she’s able to reflect and say, ‘I’ve never thought about metacognition before,’ and ‘How does that look in the classroom?’ and I can look back on my goals and think about metacognition for me and give her strategies,” she said. “She’s finding it helpful. … It’s absolutely amazing, and we’re keeping our new teachers here and really supporting them and helping them setting goals and reaching their goals.”