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Union taking issue over how DPS teachers are being graded

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Keith Johnson wants to come up with an actual tool that shows what is in a teacher evaluation.  (Credit: WJBK | myFOXDetroit.com) Keith Johnson wants to come up with an actual tool that shows what is in a teacher evaluation. (Credit: WJBK | myFOXDetroit.com)
DETROIT (WJBK) -

It's a fight about how teachers are graded by the district.  The Detroit Federation of Teachers is complaining that the union didn't have a voice in how DPS does these evaluations, calling it a rush job, even a drive-by evaluation.

The school district says that's just not fair.

"I think there's been a variety of misinformation about somehow there have been drive-by evaluations, that there have been a thousand teachers waiting in line for interviews and all these sort of things that simply are not true.  This is a ten month process in its planning.  It has included the DFT," said spokesman Steve Wasko.

He says the district is basing its policy on the State of Michigan requirements, a ten month process, the district's thorough way of evaluating teachers.  Wasko points to an outline or an evaluation rubric as the basis for their evaluation process.

"It's a 13-page set of rubric that would look to all the various aspects of how that teacher is handling teaching and learning in front of that student."

So it looks like it comes down to an elementary lesson in the definition of what is an evaluation.  A rubric, a template talking about the principals, is what Wasko has been talking about.  Keith Johnson with the Federation of Teachers says he wants to sit down and come up with an actual tool that shows what is in an evaluation.

"From the rubric you develop a process by which you identify whether or not the teacher is incorporating the components of the rubric into what they are doing," he said, adding that the evaluation process is what he has an issue with.

The Federation of Teachers points to a folder filled with lawsuits from teachers.

"See this DFT versus Roberts?  This is the precursor to the lawsuit we're going to file against them."

An objection to the way teachers are evaluated.

Wasko says these 20 to 30 minute observations are part of a larger process that takes months.

"There's a year long evaluation that goes on.  A piece of that is a classroom observation.  The principal does that throughout the course of the year.  At the very end of the year, we actually brought in principal coaches, who are retired Detroit public school teachers who know a lot about this system, to do the final piece of that."

If there are any teachers out there who feel as if their evaluations were not done carefully enough and were not fair, the Detroit public school systems says they can file a grievance by calling (313) 873-8550.  Johnson says there are a lot of teachers who may take them up on that offer.

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