District 155 finds success in new teacher evaluation process

CRYSTAL LAKE – Crystal Lake School District 155 boasts two of the top-35 high schools in the state, average ACT scores two points higher than the Illinois average, and nearly 90 percent of its teaching staff with master's degrees.

It is still not good enough for faculty and administrators.

One year after implementing a new teacher evaluation process in response to state mandates that tie student performance to teacher evaluations, Prairie Ridge High School Principal Steven Koch told board members Tuesday that minor tweaks would be implemented to continue to provide teachers as much information as possible.

Koch, a member of the 10-person evaluation committee composed of administrators and teachers, said small changes such as overhauling the student surveys to receive more feedback and having at least three classroom observers visit teachers throughout the year to provide more perspective would bolster professional development.

"It's energized some teachers and provided us with a common language to talk about our craft," Koch said of the new system. "There are a lot of benefits this system offers us."

The former director of staff development has participated in teacher observations for eight years, but said he was excited for the fall to see how teachers incorporated the feedback after the first full year with the new evaluation process.

Board President Ted Wagner said the evaluation committee is a great example of the close partnership the administrators and teachers have and their dedication to improving with the students in mind.

He said the constant improvement in classroom teaching is a main reason why the district will have nearly 1,000 students participating in one of the more than 18 advanced placement courses.

With or without state mandates, Wagner said, the district has always looked to rank among the best and improve each year.

"We're always on a constant journey to raise the bar," Wagner said. "This has been a great collaborative effort between administrators and the staff, and I just see us getting better and better and continuing to elevate our scores."

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