Report Card: Hawaii Teachers
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It could take years under the old contract to fire a teacher who was considered incompetent. The new contract between the teachers union and the state establishes a new evaluation procedure under which teachers either earn their raises, are ordered to improve or get fired. Here’s how it works:
Four Elements to New Annual Evaluations
- Evaluator’s observation of the teacher in the classroom in both spring and fall;
- Student surveys of teacher’s performance in spring and fall
- Progress in students’ annual test scores
- Achievement of student learning objectives, which are decided in advance
Annual Rankings of Teachers
These teachers will continue under the old evaluation system during 2013-14
- Teachers rated marginal in 2012-13;
- Those with documented performance deficiencies in 2012-13;
- Nontenured teachers who began before 2013-14.
Source: HSTA and State of Hawaii Department of Education
How Long Does It Take to Fire a Teacher?
Q: An untenured teacher can be fired at any time. How long does it take for a Hawaii public school teacher to gain tenure?
A: Probationary teachers currently in service were required to serve four semesters (two years) to gain tenure. Under the new union contract, teachers hired July 1, 2013, or later must serve six semesters (three years) to gain tenure.
Q: How long does it take to fire an underperforming, tenured teacher?
A: Under the current teacher evaluation system, the state Department of Education says, teachers have been terminated. However, the length of that firing process varies widely from a year to four years or even longer, depending on the case and whether the supervising principal has followed procedures and properly documented the reasons for termination,
say the DOE and the teachers union.
Q: How many teachers have been fired in recent years?
A: Despite repeated queries at different levels, the DOE would not answer that question. However, a Civil Beat story in July 2011 quoted DOE sources as saying that six public school teachers had been fired in Hawaii for misconduct in the previous two years.
Q: Does the new contract shorten the time it takes to terminate a teacher?
A: The new contract does have features intended to streamline the review of teachers with a “marginal” ranking; marginal is the second lowest rating. In the new contract, teachers given the lowest rating, “unsatisfactory,” are subject to termination; however, those teachers still have the right to grieve a termination under the new contract. According to the DOE and the HSTA, that process can take a year or longer. The right to grieve a firing is held by other public employees covered under union contracts, such as firefighters, police officers, professors, nurses and blue-collar workers.
What Students Are Supposed to Know
Hawaii is among 45 states using the Common Core State Standards to guide student learning. The standards define what students should master in English-language arts and mathematics by the end of each grade. Learn what those standards are at doe.k12.hi.us/curriculum/commoncore/index.htm or use this shortcut, tinyurl.com/blfckhn.
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