Liberty County School System administrators on Tuesday updated school-board members on virtual learning in the public schools and demonstrated how the new teacher-evaluation system can be monitored.
Dr. Debbie Rodriguez, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, said during the work session that staff had “tweaked” the procedures students would follow to enroll in Georgia Virtual Schools courses as requested by the board of education last month. Board members had said they want to ensure these procedures are defined clearly and could be understood by students, parents and educators.
Students who wish to enroll in an online course first should read information posted on gavirtualschool.org, Rodriguez said. Next, the student should take the technology-readiness survey and print the results. Then the student should bring these results to a scheduled meeting with their school counselor.
Parents are encouraged to attend this meeting, Rodriguez said. If the student, parent and counselor agree to the online learning, then the student signs an enrollment agreement. The assistant superintendent said counselors would play a significant role assisting those students who choose to take online courses, to ensure their academic success.
Rodriguez said the online courses are “very rigorous” and would best suit highly motivated students. She said students who take virtual classes tend to pass end-of-course testing, according to the latest research.
At present, students may take online courses only at the school sites, Rodriguez said. Staff is looking into allowing students to take online courses at home.
Board member Carol Guyett had concerns that too much might be expected of students who put 5-6 hours of daily work into a nine-week virtual course.
“We’re trying to reach a lot of different students and not just target high achievers,” she said.
School Superintendent Dr. Valya Lee told board members when students enroll in online courses through GVS, the school receives Full-Time Equivalent funding from the state for that student.
“The school system incurs fees for Georgia Virtual classes that are not passed on to the student,” reads the details portion of the system’s proposed guidelines to online learning. “In the event of an extenuating circumstance where a student might be given special permission to drop a Georgia Virtual class, the parent must provide to the district the reimbursement of all costs associated with the course.”
School administrators also stressed that only online courses taken through GVS would be funded by the school system.
Board member Verdell Jones commented these online courses are not designed to take the place of traditional classroom study, but to offer students further options.
GVS targets middle- and high-school students and offers more than 100 courses in core content areas, languages, CTAE (Career, Technical and Agricultural Education), electives and advanced-placement courses, according to gavirtualschool.org.
Jason Rogers, assistant superintendent for administrative services, briefed board members on the new teacher-evaluation system being piloted by Liberty County public schools.
The system is using the Teacher Keys Effectiveness System (TKES) for teachers and has a modified plan to implement the Leader Keys Effectiveness System (LKES) for principals. These systems are part of the Race to the Top Initiative and are designed for building teacher effectiveness throughout Georgia, according to doe.k12.ga.us.
Rogers said per the new evaluation system, teachers are completing self-assessments. Teachers also must undergo four classroom walkthroughs and two formal observations this school year, he said. The first walkthrough deadline is Sept. 30. The second walkthrough must be completed by Oct. 30. Then, principals will meet with teachers for a one-on-one mid-year conference, Rogers said. In the second semester, deadlines will be set for the final two walkthroughs and a final assessment will be scheduled.
As part of TKES, student survey data will be gathered, according to Rogers. Students will survey teachers sometime between October and March, he said.
Rogers said central-officer administrators easily can view and monitor TKES data by navigating the online system, to see where teachers and principals are in the evaluation process.
In other BoE business:
• The school board approved the job description for a behavior-support teacher position to be filled next school year. In July, board members approved a contract for autism consultant Dr. Lorrie Spencer, a board-certified behavior analyst, at a cost of $1,500 a month for the current school year. Lee recommended creating the position, searching among the district’s current qualified employees for a person who already has the skill set needed for the new position and has the selected candidate work toward full certification.
• Board members also discussed district payment for athletic officials and how billing is handled. Rogers told the board each high school keeps the gate receipts (profits) from football, basketball, softball, baseball and soccer games. Lee said she would like to run a detailed report of gate receipts in order to more closely monitor billing and would report back to the board.
• The board approved a $16,151 contract with P.C. Simonton & Associates Inc. for engineering, design and construction services for improvements to Liberty Elementary School’s parking area, driveways and bus drive.
• School board members approved hiring one kindergarten teacher and two Early Intervention Program teachers, three bus drivers, two custodians, three special education paraprofessionals and one paraprofessional. In addition, the board accepted several resignations and approved five transfers for teaching professionals and three transfers for classified employees.