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Student Growth Still a Critical Factor in Teacher Evaluations

The backlash against using student test scores to evaluate teachers continues to gain momentum, with Georgia among the latest states changing their policies. In a unanimous vote, the Georgia State Board decided to diminish the role of student test scores.

Before the vote, student performance made up 50 percent of teacher evaluation outcomes. With the change, it will make up 30 percent of a teacher’s score. The remainder will consist of classroom observations (50 percent) and teacher’s growth (20 percent).

The development points to a general consensus that student growth and student test scores still are significant factors in determining a teacher’s performance, but perhaps should not be the predominate factor.

According to the National Council on Teacher Quality, 27 states required annual evaluations for all teachers in 2015, compared to just 15 states in 2009. However, 45 states require that new teachers who are still in a probationary period undergo teacher evaluations every year. And of those states, 17 factor in student growth as the “preponderant criterion” in teacher evaluations, according to a report. Student growth was a “significant criterion” for teacher evaluations in 18 other states.

In New York, a law was recently passed that emphasized state test scores in evaluations. Shortly after that enactment, policymakers for education decided to take away the ability to use state test scores at all. This came in response to the governor feeling that the inclusion of state test scores in teacher evaluations was being used to provide higher ratings to perhaps less-deserving teachers.

According to the Center for Public Education, most states use student scores from state standardized tests, but many also combine this data with other measures.

After all was said and done, with critics arguing that the emphasis on state test scores was unreasonable, the decision was made by the state education department to give teachers two evaluations. One includes test scores, but will have no consequences for the teacher. The other, using different standards for evaluations, can have an effect on an educator’s tenure and possible termination.

Negotiations are underway between districts and teacher’s unions to come to agreement on what those evaluations will cover and what they consider as fair ways to evaluate teachers.

2 Comments

  1. Steve Levine

    Your post certainly emphasizes the fluid situation this issue is in. My prediction is that most states in the future will eliminate or significantly reduce the use of test scores in teacher evaluation. There are just too many problems with this approach. However, I hope it doesn’t diminish the very important role of evaluating teachers in a fair but strict way to ensure high quality teaching. My latest post also addresses this topic.

    1. Todd Whitlock

      Thank you for your comment. We completely agree it is essential to give fair, transparent feedback to all educators to improve instruction