Evaluations of Sarah's Teaching at
Gilbert Public Schools: All Good!
Sarah has been teaching for Gilbert Public
Schools for more than six years. Sarah has never had a bad evaluation and she
has never been disciplined.
Gilbert Public Schools Statement of Charges
against Sarah refer to many incidents that occurred during the 2010-2011 school year.
However, Sarah's employment file does not include any
documented counseling sessions, reprimands, or warnings
... there are only good evaluations. It is significant
that Gilbert Public Schools renewed Sarah's annual
teaching contract at the end of the 2010-2011 school
dismissal prerequisites and procedures outlined in state law, Gilbert
Public Schools zoomed
dismissal after Sarah reported bullying, racial discrimination and
retaliation. The bullying, racial discrimination and
retaliation were not addressed.
So how did Sarah end up in
the middle of dismissal procedures? Gilbert Public
Schools Superintendent Dave Allison threatened to make
public charges against Sarah if she would not resign and
drop her claims against the district -- specifically,
the charge Sarah had filed with the U.S. Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission.
Sarah refused to resign
because she did not do anything wrong.
Sarah's employment file
Sarah's Self Assessment for the 2010-2011 school year
gives a candid snapshot of a sterling teacher's
classroom performance. It's a lot easier to read than
the formal evaluation.
Sarah's Self Assessment for 2009-2010 offers even
more insight into what goes in an elementary school
Sarah's End of Year Evaluation for the 2010-2011
school year. Not one single item is marked below
standards. Quick summary of the five standards
- Commitment to students and their learning -- Above Standards (3 points)
- Instructional and content knowledge -- Exceeds Standards (5 points)
- Facilitation and assessment of student learning -- Above Standards (3 points)
- Professional development -- Exceeds Standards (5 points)
- Professional characteristics -- At Standards (1 point)
Sarah wrote a
disagreement with this end of year evaluation.
About Standard 5:
I believe your
statement is inaccurate and based on a comment from the
psychologist rather than your own knowledge. I submit that I
complied with your directive and that of the school psychologist
to "prep parents" when I explained to the child's mother that
"***** may or may not qualify, and that Special Ed would be only
for the subjects ***** qualified in (most likely *****, if
anything.) Also I told her Vicki thought SpEd might protect *****
in older grades and Jr. High/High School." As evidence, my
emails in September and October 2010 to the school psychologist
are attached. [Referenced emails
Sarah did not know at
the time that
Denise Lowell-Britt, the lawyer who
told Sarah she was an
independent and impartial investigator, wrote the text for Principal
Vicki Hester's comments for Standard 5.
Read the email from Denise Lowell-Britt to Vicki Hester here.
The text attorney Denise Lowell-Britt wrote in an email labeled
"attorney-client privileged" appears in Sarah's
evaluation under Standard 5, the lowest rating Sarah received.
Denise Lowell-Britt's email continues:
Vicki - After
thinking about the question you raised during our phone call, I
think that until the investigation is complete, it may be best
not to include reference to the matters that Sarah is so
vehemently contesting. If need be later, the District can
create documentation that reflects that the matters raised
in the April 4 letter of direction were not included in the
evaluation because they were contested and the investigation did
not conclude prior to the time of her evaluation. [emphasis
One would think GPS
would not rely on documentation created after attorney Denise Lowell-Britt
concluded her "independent and impartial investigation" for the
district's case against Sarah. It appears that one would be wrong.
One would think that an
attorney working as an "independent investigator" would not give
legal advice to the person being investigated. It appears that one would be wrong.
About Principal Vicki
Hester's Summary Comments:
Your statement that
I "volunteered to write our A+ Schools application this year" is
not true. I did not volunteer. When you made this assignment,
you knew that I could not refuse. You also knew that writing
this application would take precedence over my teaching duties
when you signed the five absence approval forms I submitted in
November 2010. Because I already have addressed this in my
response to Ms. Blanchard's Letter of Direction and the matter
presently is under investigation for the district by an
attorney, I am forced now to dispute your statement that I
volunteered to write the A+ Schools application.
One of the
charges is "Ms. Green
accused Principal Hester of abusing her authority by assigning Ms.
Green a crushing workload over the course of over four months with
the assignment to write the school's application for the A+ Schools
It is significant that
independent attorney-investigator Denise Lowell-Britt concluded
following her investigation: "In fact, Ms. Green approached
Principal Hester and said she would be willing to write the
application and was excited to do it."
What is amazing is that
Gilbert Public Schools principals assign non-teaching duties to teachers, knowing that
those duties will take a teacher out of the classroom. The prize for
the A+ School designation is $500. Although Sarah's application won
a site visit by the A+ Schools evaluation committee, Meridian
Elementary School is not an A+ School.
About Principal Vicki
Hester's Summary Comments:
Sarah also disagreed
with Vicki Hester's impetuous misuse of
ATI Student Benchmark data in her evaluation:
"According to ATI Benchmark data, out of 25 students total, 15
students are "On Course" to meet the standards in AIMS Reading
and Literature. ATI Benchmark data shows that 4 students are "On
Course" to meet the standards in AIMS Math. Two students are on
track to exceed the standards in Math." You did not show me any
reports you relied on for this data, and I have not been able to
substantiate your statements in reports that I accessed.
During the conference, your statement was very different from
what you wrote:
"I put a statement about ATI Benchmark data in all the --
everybody's evaluation this year because year after next a
component of the evaluation will be based on data and I didn't
know what kind, but I thought I'd put something about data in
here, so I picked ATI. And so according to ATI Benchmark data,
out of 25 students total, 15 students were on course to meet the
standards in AIMS Math. Two students are on track to exceed the
standards in Math. And so I thought that was a really nice
There is no correlation between effectiveness as a teacher and
the data you selected. Further, the data cannot support your
conclusion "that was a really nice result." Your reference to a
future requirement, "year after next a component of the
evaluation will be based on data and I didn't know what kind"
does not justify misusing student achievement assessments for
Jason Kane Feld, Ph.D., Vice President, Corporate Projects,
Technology Incorporated, stated that ATI Benchmarks are
not intended for teacher evaluation. He added that ATI
Benchmark data should not be used to compare teachers,
either. His company presently is developing assessment
instruments to comply with various states' new laws requiring
teacher evaluations to include student data. [emphasis added]
During our conference, you said you included ATI Benchmark data
in "everybody's evaluation this year." Your sudden and
unannounced use of student achievement assessments in teacher
evaluation does not comply with district policy and regulations
in GCO-E: "Annually each certified employee shall be advised of
the specific criteria upon which observations and evaluations
are to be based before the evaluation cycle begins." I believe
impetuous misuse of assessment data taints all your teacher
evaluations because they will be used for administrative
decisions such as employment and assignment, granting continuing
status, promotion, demotion, or termination. This is a liability
for the district that requires immediate remedy.
One would think that GPS
superintendents or the
Gilbert Education Association would be concerned about misusing
student assessment data to evaluate teachers and rely on such
misused data to make critical employment decisions. Again, one could
Highland Park Elementary
School Principal Jason Martin made two observations of Sarah's
classroom teaching performance in 2011.
Walk Through Observation, August 30, 2011: In this
unscheduled assessment, Jason Martin asked questions about the 14
minutes of teaching that he observed:
- So do students get
the worksheet once they have done a problem on the board? I am
thinking they get a problem based on something they missed on
- Also, what computer
program are students using?
traditionally very difficult for third graders, and they each get
confused in their own special way. Each week, I give a preview test
for the next week, so I already knew on Monday that about 5 kids
already are good at rounding. They will do the work with us, but
also do the Millionaire Math place value packets which arrived today
Yesterday, I assessed
the students at the beginning of the lesson, then taught according
to their needs. That got about 3 more students to understand complex
rounding. Then, we did a little more math after lunch to help the
confused students. At the end of the day, I wrote my own rounding
quiz (not graded) for an assessment.
I was pulling students
for rounding help based on how they did on yesterday's assessment.
After helping the first few who were close -- watching them was like
a warm-up for the others -- I pulled the last 9 die-hards for extra
By the end, all but 4
understood the concept.
This is why we spend a
week on rounding!
On Thursday, I signed up
for extra rounding fun in the computer lab using several different
rounding games. I can send you the links if you'd like. They really
helped my students last year.
Hope this clarifies an
unusual math lesson.
[Note: Sarah's blog post
showing parents how to teach rounding can be found
Principal Jason Martin also
Formal Observation, October 19, 2011. Notice that
comments are innocuous, nothing critical. It is significant that one
of the charges against Sarah is that she "allowed her father to come
into the classroom during her observation to switch the videotape."
Sarah videotaped this
lesson, having been tipped off by a former third grade teacher at
Highland Park Elementary School that it would be necessary. The former teacher
resigned at the end of the school year in which she was employed at
Highland Park Elementary School -- she had been transferred from another school and
was subjected to much the same treatment by principal Jason Martin as Sarah
experienced. It is worthy of note that the former teacher is an
African-American woman who filed a charge with the U.S. Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission against
Jason Martin and Gilbert Public Schools. The former teacher warned Sarah to videotape her formal observations
as evidence, because Sarah would need it later.
Sarah also recorded her
conference with Jason Martin where he discussed the lesson that he
had observed. It was equally innocuous. Listen to the