Focus of Statewide Teleconference Is Effective Teaching

Article excerpt

Elizabeth Forward School District, Propel East and Homestead charter schools, and Forbes Road Career & Technology Center are volunteering for a pilot program aimed at improving teacher effectiveness.

That program was discussed with other "Making The Grade" bids to achieve effective teaching in every classroom in a statewide virtual town hall meeting Tuesday in Homestead.

"Our goal was to create a statewide dialogue about having an effective teacher for every child in every classroom," Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children CEO Joan Benso told 1,400 participants.

They were gathered in 28 locations, including the Allegheny Intermediate Unit headquarters in the Waterfront, for a two-hour forum also involving state Secretary of Education Ronald J. Tomalis.

It's all part of an effort to "find out successful practices that have the most impact on student achievement," Tomalis said in a video conference call also seen locally at the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit in Hempfield Township.

"No resource is more important than an outstanding teacher," said Dr. Joe O'Brien, executive director of the Chester County Intermediate Unit and president of the Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units, which arranged the conference call.

Two years ago, the Pennsylvania Department of Education began development of a comprehensive educator-assessment system funded with $800,000 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. That "Pilot I" round involved Cornell and Quaker Valley districts.

"Many of our teachers saw the need for an updated evaluation system," Cornell High School chemistry teacher Tavis Bogue said as part of a panel that featured speakers in Homestead and three other sites.

This fall, the AIU and eight other intermediate units, Propel and seven other charter schools, and Forbes Road and eight other career and technical centers are building on that 2010-11 foundation. …