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Do Teacher Evaluations Identify Poor Performers?

While we continue to debate what makes a teacher evaluation fair, there are some startling statistics that are still making experts take pause. Although it’s been nearly 7 years since reforms for teacher evaluations came to the forefront, most states are still reluctant to give teachers poor ratings.

In most states, only 1 percent to 3 percent of teachers receive a poor rating — one that could possibly lead to them losing their job, according to a recent article in The Washington Post.

In Delaware, the findings were even more interesting. No teachers (make that zero percent) were deemed ineffective, while only 1 percent received the rating of “needs improvement,” according to a recent study.

These type of ratings would be considered unusual at most corporations, which regularly target the bottom 10 percent of their lowest performers for dismissal. Also, it would be unheard of for 99 percent of students to be receive a rating of “no need for improvement.”

According to Terri Hodges, president of Delaware’s PTA, the results are concerning even though the parent/teacher organization strongly support teachers. Describing the findings as a big surprise, Hodges said it’s unlikely that so few teachers don’t require improvement. “We need to take a hard look at this evaluation system,” she said.

“We support a fair evaluation system, but we can’t say that 99 percent of teachers are effective when we look at the number of students we’re seeing reaching proficiency or how we stack up to other states,” Hodges told the Delaware News Journal.

The study revealed a wide range of ratings depending upon the states. In New Mexico, about 26 percent of teachers were rated below proficient. In Hawaii, like Delaware, fewer than 1 percent of teachers earned that ranking. Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Idaho rounded out the top 5 of states with little to no below proficient teacher ratings.

Critics point to it as evidence that much hasn’t changed in developing fair and effective teacher evaluations since a study was released nearly 7 years ago, revealing that fewer than 1 percent of teachers in the nation received ratings of “unsatisfactory” on their annual employee evaluations.

That study led to a national call to overhaul the way teachers are evaluated, with some demanding that student test scores be factored into those ratings.