As veteran classroom teachers, we are working every day to meet student needs in a changing, complex world. With this rate of change, teachers often feel left out of decisions affecting school practices and operations. We feel that it is important to acknowledge the opportunity we have had thus far in shaping the teacher evaluation practices in our district.

Educators strive to impact their students on a daily basis and provide them with the skills needed to be successful both academically and in life. For the past several years, Charleston County School District (CCSD) has been focused and committed to improving educator effectiveness to ensure its educators are able to provide the best possible educational experiences for their students.

BRIDGE: Grow is part of a new evaluation system being piloted in 14 schools across the district beginning this year. The goal of this evaluation system is to positively impact and inform teachers through feedback designed to improve teacher performance.

Currently, CCSD teachers are largely evaluated based on student proficiency. This method captures only a brief moment of both teacher and student performance during the school year. Alternatively, BRIDGE: Grow will evaluate educators using multiple measures that will account for student growth and teacher performance throughout the school year.

The current components of BRIDGE: Grow are Individual Value Added (IVA), the Classroom Observation Tool (COT), and ADEPT. When combined, these multiple measures provide educators with a comprehensive understanding of how their instructional practices directly impact student performance. During the pilot year of this evaluation system, the components will be evaluated and possibly revised to include or exclude other measures in an effort to provide the most accurate and reliable picture of a teacher's effectiveness. The benefit of moving in this direction is that teachers get a clearer picture of exactly how their instruction affects student performance. This evaluation system is designed to inform instructional practices throughout the year so that teachers have an opportunity to improve.

CCSD has invited teachers to be actively involved in the process of informing decisions about the new evaluation system. Through participation in the work groups, teachers are able to voice their concerns to ensure that the evaluation system is fair to teachers across the district. The more involved teachers are in this process, the better we can understand how the information from the evaluation system will benefit teachers, and most importantly, our students.

As educators who regularly teach students with a wide range of abilities, we are pleased with the shift away from teaching "to the test," and the move toward teaching for academic growth and success. We constantly strive to improve our techniques and increase our knowledge so that our students show growth each year, regardless of where they begin. Evaluation through BRIDGE: Grow encourages this professional standard of excellence and allows teachers to have more individualized feedback to inform professional development, and ultimately, impact student achievement.

We encourage educators, parents, and community members to learn more and become involved in the process. Visit the BRIDGE portal at to learn more.

Lisa Trott is a 4th grade teacher at Ashley River Creative Arts Elementary School, and is Charleston's 2013 Teacher of the Year. Samantha Blake teaches 5th grade Social Studies and English Language Arts, and is the 2013-2014 Teacher of the Year at Ellington Elementary, one of the 14 BRIDGE Pilot Schools.