Many teachers critical of new evaluations

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Facebook page Hawaii Teachers Work to the Rules is a clearinghouse for comments and complaints about the new teacher evaluation system. Some say it saddles teachers with paperwork and handcuffs them to multiple meetings

"The amount of time that the teachers have to spend on this is time that they could be spending working on their lesson plans, working with their students," Campbell High School teacher Corey Rosenlee said.

Teachers are evaluated on classroom observations, student surveys, and a section called core professionalism. The Department of Education stands by it.

"We do have some teachers in our area who see the benefit, and they are appreciative of the feedback," said Suzanne Mulcahy, DOE Complex Area Superintendent for the Kailua-Kalaheo areas.

But some teachers fear their scores will be unfairly tied to test scores, even though the test takers may be another teacher's students.

"I might teach seniors, and I've never had any of those students. But that score still affects me," Mililani High School teacher Amy Perusso said.

School Renewal Specialist Yuuko Arikawa agrees the evaluation system is a big change from what teachers are used to.  But she says a key part of the program is controlled by teachers.

"They choose the standards. They choose the instructional strategies. They get to choose the targets that they set for their students. So they are in complete control with that," she said.

Still some teachers give the evaluation, as it stands, a failing grade.

"It's far less consistent than it's been painted. I think it's far more subjective than it's been painted. I think it's far less equitable than it's been painted," Wailuku Elementary School teacher Alan Isbell said.

"Some people are getting so fed up they're saying, 'I'm not going to do it. Let the DOE fire me,'" Rosenlee said.

Mulcahy said the DOE will review critiques and criticisms and make adjustments. She hopes teachers will be patient as evaluations evolve.

"Give it time. Wait for those recommendations to be made by the joint committee to the superintendent," she said.

Eventually, teacher evaluations will be tied to teacher pay raises.

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