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Recent Developments in Teacher Evaluations Across the Country

With teacher evaluations continuing to make national headlines, states are experiencing varying results after prolonged debates on how they should be executed. California is among those leading the way, with the United Teachers Los Angeles recently approving a new teacher evaluation system for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Here is a snapshot of what’s happening in several other states with teacher evaluations:

Massachusetts — This state’s proposal for evaluating the performance of teachers is still hotly contested, with teacher unions, superintendents and school committees questioning the validity of the plan. One of the main pain points is Massachusetts’ decision to measure teacher performance based on student test scores. This requirement also is being questioned because it applies to teachers in all fields, including gym, art and music.

“In theory it sounded like a good idea, but in practice it turned out to be an insurmountable task,” Glenn Koocher of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees told the Boston Globe.

Hawaii — The Board of Education in Hawaii decided to change its policy that allows principals to consider student standardized test outcomes when evaluating teachers. This form of evaluation was started in 2013, but was criticized by teachers who said those who taught high-need students would automatically face lower ratings.

Michigan — In the state of Michigan, teachers are subjected to dismissal if they do not receive an effective evaluation in the final three years of their five-year probationary period. A teacher who recently contested his dismissal from Grand Rapids Public Schools did not convince the school board to reverse the administration’s decision.

New York — While it’s not tied directly to teacher evaluations, New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently used another incentive to reward and inspire teachers by announcing a $5,000 bonus to teachers who instill a love of learning in students. The Empire State Excellence in Teaching Program aims to reward teachers who “foster creativity, instill a love of learning, and inspire independent thinking and student initiative,” according to the announcement. The teachers are allowed to use the $5,000 for themselves — not necessarily school supplies.