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Belmont Teachers Evaluated as Top Ranked in New State System

Superintendent's response: results don't indict one school is "better" than another in the district due to the "raw" numbers.

Dr Thomas Kingston.
Dr Thomas Kingston.
Belmont School District teachers are solidly proficient according to results from the new educator evaluation system released by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education today, Thursday, Nov. 21. 

When reviewing just teachers, five percent of Belmont educators were evaluated in the top "exemplary" level and another five percent were rated "needs improvement" while nine in ten were deemed "proficient" in their effectiveness teaching students. 

But ask Belmont Schools Superintendent Dr. Thomas Kingston about the results of the performance appraisal system and you'll likely get a shrug of the shoulders.

In both a written statement on his blog and in a statement at the last Belmont School Committee meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 19, Kingston said he believed the "raw" data released by the state isn't "very revealing."

"[The results] cannot be taken to imply that a district with a higher percentage of teachers rated Proficient is better than a district with a lower percentage," said Kingston.

Looking at the data, it appears Belmont has a highly component teaching corp throughout the district.

The town compares well with state-wide figures – 7.7 percent exemplary, 87.1 percent proficient, 4.8 percent needing improvement and less than one percent unsatisfactory – with the Daniel Butler Elementary School teachers showing an impressive result of 8.3 percent exemplary and 91.7 percent proficient and without any teacher rating as needing improvement.

You can find more information about the district and individual schools by going to the DESE website.  

While the district's performance was impressive, "[u]nfortunately, from my perspective, the raw percentages are not especially revealing or important," said Kingston.  

While predicting perfectly that the district's results would likely represent the classic "Bell curve" at Tuesday's meeting, Kingston contends the numbers "does not indicate how rigorously evaluators have applied the new professional performance standards and rubrics; they do not reflect the intensity of high expectations in such high-performing districts like Belmont; they do not and cannot imply that one grade school with a higher percentage of proficiency ratings than another is necessarily or logically a 'better' school." 

Kingston said the results are the beginning, and not the end, of the conversation on  improving educator's skills.

"District evaluators continue to engage in professional development to ensure greater consistency of expectations and greater conformity in making overall performance judgments," said Kingston.

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