HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The new contract public school teachers will vote on April 17 says teacher evaluations will be based on observations of instructors, student surveys and student growth.
But Campbell High School teacher Corey Rosenlee thinks the contract fails to specify how much student test scores will count, and that's dangerous.
"A lot of our students are so over tested, that by the time they get to a test, they don't care. We have multiple examples of kids bubbling in their names or just writing in little shapes. And all of a sudden this is now going to factor into whether a teacher gets a raise or not," he said.
Teachers will be rated by categories from Highly Effective down to Unsatisfactory. Teachers on the lowest rung could be fired.
Janelle Custer teaches special education at Kailua Elementary School. She favors the evaluations in general.
"We teach our kids that," she said. "We give feedback to our children. So I think that as teachers it will be good to get feedback, especially from the evaluators."
Rosenlee said the contract approaches evaluations from a punitive perspective instead of trying to improve teacher performance.
"You have two chances maybe a year that's going to determine thousands of dollars on your paycheck. What if you have a bad day?" he said.
Although Custer likes evaluations, she believes the contract lacks sufficient details on exactly how the grading system will affect paychecks.
"It's just kind of difficult not knowing what lays ahead, because we're going to sign something, and then it just has in there that they're going to discuss it. But we don't know what we'll agree on," she said.
The contract said student surveys will also factor into teacher evaluations. Rosenlee objects to that point.
"As one teacher put it best. She said, 'I don't want a six-year-old to determine whether I can pay rent this month,'" he said.
Rosenlee and Custer have questions about the evaluators themselves. What expectations will be placed on them? And will there be enough of them to effectively evaluate the 13,500 teachers in Hawaii's public school system.
If teachers ratify the new contract, teacher evaluations will affect teacher pay beginning with the 2014-15 school year.