Conference Topic is Teacher Evaluation


Conference Topic is Teacher Evaluation

Area school administrators will gather on the SUNY Cortland campus on Wednesday, Aug. 14, to discuss a form of teacher evaluation that is fast gaining momentum as an effective way to help educators identify their own strengths and weaknesses.

The novel approach, evidence-based observation for teacher evaluation, and other pressing topics of interest to district and building administrators, curriculum teams, certificate of advanced studies candidates and curriculum area coordinators are part of the 2013 Francis J. Cheney Educational Leadership Summer Conference. The event takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Sperry Center.   

The free conference is geared for all area school administrators, future administrators and students enrolled in SUNY Cortland’s Educational Leadership Department. Louise M. Conley, Ph.D., and the Cortland College Foundation, are the conference sponsors.

Participant registration is required to attend the conference. To register for the event, which includes lunch and refreshments, or to receive more information, contact the Educational Leadership Department by calling 607-753-2444 or by emailing

The conference marks its fifth year as an annual event. At this year’s conference, titled “Evidence-Based Observation for Teacher Evaluation,” the educational administrators informally will discuss areas where educational leadership may be demonstrated, such as:

• Defining what is evidence-based observation;

• Explaining the reasons to conduct evidence-based observation;

• Understanding how evidence-based observation differs from current practice;

• Knowing what an evaluator should look for when observing a lesson; and,

• Recognizing what constitutes “good evidence.”

Exploring the topic with attendees will be Barbara Phillips, Broome-Tioga Board of Cooperative Educational Services and Race To The Top Network Team coordinator; and Denise Cook, elementary principal in the Deposit Central School District.

Kevin Mack, who chairs the Educational Leadership Department, works with an 11-member advisory board composed of regional school administrators to organize the one-day summer conference. He views it as an opportunity for school principals and other leaders to foster fair and effective teacher evaluations.

“This training is not rubric specific,” Mack said. “Instead, participants will practice collecting evidence based on specific categories and criteria that are common in each of the New York state-approved rubrics.”

The day will feature a large group discussion led by Phillips and Cook followed by small group discussions facilitated by members of the advisory team. The arrangement is designed to encourage the free exchange of ideas in a small group setting.

Named after Francis J. Cheney, who served as Cortland Normal School principal from 1891 until his death in 1912, the educational conference was created and funded by Cheney’s granddaughter, Louise M. Conley of Princeton, N.J. Conley chairs the Cortland College Foundation Board of Directors.

The conference’s mission is to create a learning community for educational leaders that enhances and supports the success of all students through ongoing professional development, refinement of leadership skills and networking.