Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools teachers are spending a lot more time making sure they measure up in the classroom.
Under the recently implemented Ohio's Teacher Evaluation System (OTES), teachers receive one of four ratings: accomplished, skilled, developing or ineffective.
"We are fortunate to have teachers that want to perform in the 'accomplished' range, and we are so appreciative of the work they do every day to reach this level," said Scott Schmidt, the district's executive director of elementary education.
The ratings are based on evaluations that have two components: teacher performance and student academic growth. Each is considered equal in the evaluation.
According to the Ohio Department of Education, teacher performance ratings are determined by a professional growth plan, two 30-minute classroom observations and walk-throughs.
Student academic growth is determined by how much progress students make academically over the course of the school year.
The new evaluation system is meant to provide educators with a richer and more detailed view of their performance, with a focus on specific strengths and opportunities for improvement.
Although some Ohio districts have hired outside evaluators to measure staff members, G-J chose another path.
"Administrators at each building are handling the evaluation process," Schmidt said. "However, the time spent on evaluation has easily tripled from past years. In addition to needing to formally evaluate every staff member every year, there is also a significant amount of time being spent completing paperwork and rubrics for the new evaluation system."
Schmidt said everyone agrees that self-reflection and feedback from a supervisor are beneficial for development, but initial feedback shows an excess of paperwork with the new process.
"Teachers are spending two or more hours on pre-observation paperwork, and principals are spending a similar amount of time documenting all the evidence," he said.
Schmidt said the district has no direct way to calculate the cost of implementing the new system.
The G-J school district was one of the first in the area to incorporate the new teacher evaluations as part of a three-year labor contract approved in October.
Teachers union spokesperson Jenny Palguta said the contract incorporated new teacher evaluations in a major way.
"It's not only a lot of work for administrators but (also for) all of us," she said. "It's a big chunk of our new contract, and we made it a positive part of (the agreement)."
Because the district earned an A on the indicators met on the 2012-13 school year, the teachers who worked last year received $400 last month. If they reach that same goal during the next two years, teachers will receive a $200 stipend each year.
Superintendent Francis Scruci said the contract was done in good faith, and it recognizes the hard work accomplished by teachers in the classroom every day.