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District Overview & Description
North Thurston Public Schools serves nearly 14,000 students each year through its 13 elementary schools, four middle schools, three comprehensive high schools, and one high school of choice. The school district employs more than 1,700 staff. Located in South Puget Sound, North Thurston is Washington’s 23rd largest school district. Moreover, North Thurston is the most ethnically diverse school district in the South Sound region, as follows:
- 2.82 percent of North Thurston students are American Indian or Alaskan Native.
- 12.96 percent are Asian or Pacific Islander.
- 9.22 percent are African American.
- 11.28 percent are Hispanic.
- 38.56 percent are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.
|Number of principals in pilot:||21|
|Number of assistant principals in pilot:||10|
|Number of classroom teachers in pilot:||124|
|Number of district administrators evaluating participating principals:||2|
North Thurston Team Interviews
Introduction and Context
The primary goal of this project is to improve our system of evaluation for teachers and principals through the use of research-based tools and processes that promote individual professional growth. We are developing an evaluation model that requires systemic commitment to professional inquiry, self-reflection, and performance analysis focused on the ultimate goal of continuous improvements to teaching and learning in our student-centered district.
Information to Know Before Reviewing Our Model
North Thurston Public Schools and North Thurston Education Association have worked collaboratively on this project from the very beginning. We are united in our commitment to the pilot process and in our convictions about the importance of taking the time to properly develop an authentic and valid teacher evaluation system that is truly focused on the continuous improvement of teaching and learning. Our committee of 35 teachers, administrators, and association representatives has logged over 3500 hours of study, preparation, and collaborative work during this school year alone. Additionally, the project has been supported by a .8 Project Facilitator and a .3 Project Director. We anticipate next year’s pilot process will require a similar investment of time and resources.
As a team, we are incredibly thankful for the wisdom and foresight demonstrated by our state’s political leadership in creating a comprehensive teacher evaluation pilot process that engages all of the stakeholders in our public education system. We agree the old evaluation system needs to change and are excited to assist in that effort. We are concerned by the negative example set by other states where political expediency and unfounded faith in the false promise of a simple measure becomes the basis for determining teacher effectiveness.
The teachers and principals of North Thurston Public Schools are committed to the continuous gathering and analysis of multiple forms of learning and growth data for the purpose of improving student learning. Because of our longstanding work with Effective Schools research, teachers in our district are accustomed to teaming up as Professional Learning Communities to engage in the data teaming process. Since we already make regular use of formative and summative student learning data at all levels in this district, we have incorporated those protocols and strategies into our new teacher evaluation system. By structuring for a collaborative goal setting process between principals, teachers, and (where appropriate) students, student achievement data is an integral and research-based part of the evaluative model we will pilot next year.
We are passionate about the need for this work and excited by the opportunity to pilot a research-based evaluation system that makes use of multiple measures of student learning. With continued funding and, more importantly, the space to grow, this Teacher & Principal Evaluation Pilot process will make our state the undisputed leader in research-supported teacher and principal evaluation practices.
Much as frameworks of professional practice and training in the fields of medicine, accounting, and architecture assure the public of high standards of practice, an instructional framework establishes definitions of expertise and procedures that may be used to certify, support, and evaluate teachers. Our team studied a significant number of teacher evaluation models used around our state and nation as we initially engaged in the work of creating an evaluation system that would align with the beliefs, values, and initiatives shared by our school community. As the result of our study of teacher evaluation and the body of research on this topic, we chose to adopt Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching as the instructional and evaluative framework that we will pilot next year. Danielson’s framework is the ideal choice for North Thurston Public Schools because it is supported by research and consistent with the educational best practices that have characterized our district’s professional development and strategic planning for the past decade
Contacts for North Thurston Public Schools: