Some teacher advocates ask Charleston County School District to stop new evaluation, compensation plans

A coalition of teacher and student advocacy groups wants the Charleston County School District to abandon its effort to create new teacher evaluation and compensation systems.

Representatives of those groups - EdFirstSC, the S.C. Education Association and the Charleston Area Community Voice for Education - gathered Wednesday to make that point and to encourage teachers to show their support by attending Monday's school board meeting.

"We know there's a lot of concern about this, and it's time to make it heard," said Patrick Hayes, a third-grade teacher and founder of EdFirstSC.

The school district has been working on the new evaluation and compensation systems, dubbed BRIDGE, with the help of a $23.7 million federal grant. The new evaluation system will use students' test scores to gauge teachers' efficacy. Some teachers fear that it will be an unreliable way of judging and paying them, which is what the district proposed in its grant application.

Superintendent Nancy McGinley has said she is committed to the grant, but the district needs the state and local school board's approval to institute these new systems.

"There's many steps," she said Tuesday. "There's no slam dunk that there will be changes."

Jackie Hicks, president of the S.C. Education Association, said she has heard from local teachers who don't support BRIDGE but are afraid to speak out because they think their job will be in jeopardy.

"We have to get away from all this testing," she said. "There's so much more to education, and there's so much more to children than how they answer a specific question."

Charleston County School Board member Elizabeth Moffly also attended Wednesday's press conference, and she also wants the district to stop BRIDGE.

"I think we should send it back," she said.

Reach Diette Courrégé Casey at @Diette on Twitter or (843) 937-5546.

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