News Digest

Education Department, for Now, Rejects Arkansas, Utah Teacher Evaluation Waivers

The U.S. Department of Education has rejected, at least for now, Arkansas' and Utah's requests for a one-year delay in implementing the final phase of their teacher-evaluation systems. The reason: Both states asked federal officials for more than just a delay. The reason: Both states asked federal officials for more than just a delay. In June, the U.S.

New York Officials Stall Plans to Tweak Teacher Evaluations

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s ire at state education officials has cowed them into backing off a plan, for now, to tinker with a new teacher evaluation system. At a meeting in Albany on Tuesday, the State Board of Regents set aside a proposal to let teachers contest poor evaluations by citing difficulties related to the new Common Core standards. Test scores, which factor into the evaluations, plummeted last year after the exams were rewritten in accordance with the new, tougher standards.

Tennessee Teachers Push Back on the Evaluation Process

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — When Tennessee was competing for a half-billion dollars in federal education money, teachers agreed to allow the state to ramp up its use of student test scores for evaluating educators. But since winning the $500 million Race to the Top competition in 2010, teachers say the state has gone too far in using student test scores to assess their performance.

Colorado's Slow Rollout of Teacher Evaluations Could Hold Advantages

Colorado ranked among national leaders in adopting a new teacher evaluation system but has lagged in implementing it, according to experts who also note that such a strategy could prove beneficial. School districts across the state began implementing the teacher evaluation system this school year, nearly four years after passage of the law that tied educator effectiveness to student performance.

Choosing the Right Growth Measure

University of Missouri researchers examined three broad approaches to measuring student test-score growth: aggregated student growth percentiles, a one-step value-added model, and a two-step value-added model.  They write in Education Next: These approaches reflect the spectrum of choices available to policymakers as they design evaluation systems for schools and teachers. All three approaches produce growth measures that are highly correlated, but the high correlations mask an important difference.

Teacher Evaluation Changes Could Cost Michigan School Districts

LANSING -- Proposed changes to Michigan's teacher evaluation system could cost local school districts and intermediate school districts as much as $42 million, but the sponsors of the proposed changes say most of the expenses are one-time costs the state could reimburse through the budget surplus.

Common Core May Delay Evaluation Tie-in With Teacher Evaluations

Delaware is moving away from a state-created test to the Smarter Balanced Assessment, an exam aligned with the Common Core standards. The change between tests could make it difficult for the state to set goals for how much students' scores are expected to grow. So officials are asking the U.S. Education Department for permission to remove the test from teachers' evaluations for next year only. The article is in the Wilmington News Journal.

Teacher Evaluation Sparks Clash in Pittsburgh

A dispute in Pittsburgh between the school district and teachers' union over the city's jointly designed teacher-evaluation system shows the stark distinction between ambitious policy plans and implementation—a lesson for an active philanthropic community that has invested millions of dollars in rethinking evaluation nationwide. "I thought we were partners in reform, but the partnership [with the union] has been rocky, let's just say that," Superintendent Linda S. Lane said.

DC Schools Change Evaluations for Principals

D.C. Public Schools officials have changed how they evaluate principals in response to complaints that the previous system — which rated more than half of the city’s principals below “effective” — was unfair and too tightly hitched to student test scores. With the old system, an otherwise strong principal would have been rated below effective if test scores at his or her school stagnated or declined in either math or reading. Now, test scores and other student achievement measures will account for 50 percent of a principal’s annual rating.

All 50 States Now Using Testing or School Performance for School Accountability

It's one thing to discuss in general terms how school accountability has changed since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act (one of the prime legacies of U.S. Rep. George Miller, a Democrat and titan of education policy who just announced his retirement from Congress). But can the scope of those changes in state policies be measured in some way? The Education Commission of the States has at least part of the answer.