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Published: Friday, 8/13/2004

External review of intern program for TPS delayed

BY SANDRA SVOBODA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

An outside evaluation of the Toledo Public Schools program that evaluates new teachers likely won't be completed by the beginning of the school year, as the board and administration had wanted, school officials said yesterday.

"I would hope that the public would understand that we're trying to do it right," said Craig Cotner, the district's chief academic officer. "I would much rather take a couple months and do it correctly and have people with expertise and credentials to undertake the venture than just to do it to do it."

The board of education in May authorized the administration to prepare a "request for proposals" for evaluation of the intern program with the goal of completing it by the first day of the 2004-2005 academic year: Aug. 31. At the same meeting, the board voted to hire a teacher who had been recommended for nonrenewal by the program's board.

The intern program has received national acclaim but in the last year has met with growing criticism locally.

The Urban Coaltion, a network of district watchdog groups, called for eliminating the intern program during its campaigns against the district's levies last year.

Gloria Sturdivant, a teacher not hired after participating in the plan, has sued the district, seeking another hearing on her employment. In reversing a lower court ruling, the Ohio 6th District Court of Appeals ruled in June that she should have a court hearing on the matter. That hearing is scheduled for Nov. 18.

The program assigns an experienced teacher to new teachers in the district. After a series of classroom visits and evaluations, the veteran teacher makes a recommendation on whether the new teacher should be hired to the intern board of review, which is made up of five teachers and four administrators.

In June, Superintendent Eugene Sanders prepared and distributed a draft of the request for proposals to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the program and to make recommendations for its operation.

Francine Lawrence, president of the Toledo Federation of Teachers, said she helped draft the final version which was advertised in local and national publications as well as circulated among education groups.

No proposals were received by the Aug. 6 deadline.

Mr. Cotner said evaluators from Harvard University and the University of Texas were willing to submit proposals but could not meet the Aug. 31 deadline.

"They had already made commitments for August, either professional or personal, and it wasn't something they would be able to do," Mr. Cotner said.

Mrs. Lawrence said she believes the evaluation was delayed by Mr. Sanders' candidacy for the superintendency in the District of Columbia schools.

Mr. Cotner and Mr. Sanders denied that was a factor.

"We're going to work very hard to keep our commitment," Mr. Sanders said.

Contact Sandra Svoboda at:

svoboda@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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