This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Katy Morris, an 8th-grade algebra and geometry teacher at Welsh Valley Middle School in Narberth, is out to revolutionize how teachers experience the evaluation process.
This past school year, Pennsylvania adopted a new statewide teacher evaluation system – due in part to an incentive in the federal Race to the Top school accountability competition.
The new system, known as the Danielson Framework, breaks teacher competency down into four domains — Planning and Preparation, Classroom Environment, Instruction, and Professional Responsibilities. Together, these domains incorporate 22 components, which in turn contain a total of 76 specific criteria.
On each element, administrators assess teachers on a three-tiered scale, judging them to be basic, proficient or distinguished.
For many teachers, the evaluation process can be among the most stressful parts of the job.
In reaction to the new system, Morris started tinkering with some ideas based on her techie background.
After four months of working on it in her spare time, Morris came up with an iPhone app called CYA Teacher Eval Tool that allows teachers to make their "proof" pocket-sized.
"I had been a programmer before and I was like, ‘I’m going to figure this out,’" she said. "So I kind of just ginned up the idea of having a way to use your camera to take pictures of things in your classroom and then kind of cross-check it with the list of things we have to satisfy."