Are your kids' teachers making the grade?

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PITTSBURGH —

Your child gets graded for his or her work, and so do their teachers.

Pittsburgh Public Schools spent the last four years developing a new way to evaluate teachers.

“If you asked people, there's a lot of angst and lot of stress and anxiety, and that's natural,” said teacher Gina Kassab.

Kassab is a fifth-grade teacher at Concord Elementary School.

She worries too many teachers feel as if they are being criticized by the ratings, when they need to see it more as a tool.

“I want to see what they think my strengths are. I want to see what they think my weaknesses are, because then I can use that tool to help me become better at my craft,” said Kassab.

In the new system, teachers are measured on student outcomes, a student survey and the district’s own measurement using student test results.

The evaluation results released this summer found nearly 97 percent of the district’s 1,721 teachers were rated as “distinguished” or “proficient.”

Kassab is among the teachers rated as distinguished, but she is still looking to improve.

The rest were rated as “need improvement” or “failing.”

“If they fail a second time, if they fail to sufficiently improve, then they would be eligible for dismissal,” explained Pittsburgh School Superintendent Dr. Linda Lane.

She said the results are a huge improvement from a dry run of the ratings done earlier.

A local education watchdog group agrees.  

“That's encouraging,” said Carey Harris of A+ Schools. “That's what the system should be doing. It should be identifying areas where people can get stronger.”

Last year was the first official year for the new measurement system, but Pittsburgh just received permission from the state to continue using its own evaluations for the next three years.

All Pennsylvania school districts started using a new state-mandated teacher evaluation system last school year.

Those teachers are now evaluated half on observation and half on student outcomes.

For more information on the rating and results for Pittsburgh, CLICK HERE.