News Digest

States Interpret Race to the Top's Teacher Evaluation Policies

Congress appropriated $5.05 billion for Race to the Top between 2009 and 2012, the largest competitive grant program ever administered by the U.S. Department of Education. That initiative invited states to implement six core policies, including teacher evaluation. Most states required less than half of eight teacher evaluation policies aligned with Race to the Top. Many aligned with policies requiring multiple evaluation measures and annual evaluations.

Studies Highlight Complexities of Using Value-Added Measures

As a number of states begin evaluating teachers’ effectiveness based on changes in their students’ test scores, academic research is raising more questions about such “value-added” models.

Connecticut Board Endorses Flexibility in Teacher Evaluations

HARTFORD — The state Board of Education unanimously endorsed a recommended change in the teacher evaluation system that ensures that a teacher's review does not hinge on a single state standardized test score, but not without reluctance from one board member. When the new evaluation system was approved two years ago, one of its key elements was linking teachers' performance to their students' scores on the state's standardized test.

Florida Judge: Teacher Evaluation System Legal, but Unfair

A Florida federal-court judge has ruled that the state's new teacher-evaluation system is legal, even though he is persuaded that it has been poorly implemented and is unfair.  The National Education Association and its Florida affiliate sued in 2013 to overturn the law creating the new system because some teachers in non-tested grades and subjects are judged in part by the test-score progress of students they don't teach. The post is from Education Week’s Teacher Beat blog.

Beyond State Assessments for Teacher Evaluation

While many states now evaluate teachers based on student growth, using state student assessments is problematic -- they are typically administered in grades 3-8 and only in math and reading.

California Districts Seek to Renew NCLB Waiver

The group of California school districts that won a first-of-its-kind waiver from some requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act last year has asked the U.S. Department of Education to extend the reprieve beyond the current school year. And importantly, the districts are asking to fully implement their teacher evaluation system by the 2016-17 school year, according to Hilary McLean, a spokeswoman for the CORE districts.

Houston Union Sues District Over 'Value Added" Evaluations

The Houston Federation of Teachers has filed a federal lawsuit against the 203,000-student district, claiming that its "value added" approach to teacher evaluation violates teachers' constitutional rights. The suit seeks to prevent the district from using value-added for evaluating or terminating teachers. It is at least the third lawsuit filed over such systems, on the heels of similar ones in Tennessee and Florida. Houston began using a value-added method, or VAM, as half of its teachers' overall evaluation score in 2012-13.

Rosy Indiana Evaluation Results Trigger Soul-Searching

Indiana is the latest state to unveil results from an overhauled teacher-evaluation system, and similar to many other states, the results are almost entirely rosy.

Value of Value Added

The use of value added (VA) measures to determine teacher quality is on the rise despite several arguments against their use for this purpose. A core argument about VA measures focuses on whether the measures are biased by student sorting.

Georgia Adopts New Teacher, Principal Evaluation System

ATLANTA — Student test scores are part of a new teacher and principal evaluation system that won final approval from the state Board of Education on Thursday. Board members approved of implementing the Teacher Keys Effectiveness System and the Leader Keys Effectiveness System at public and charter schools by the 2014-15 school year, officials said in a news release. Ratings for educators under the new system will range from one to four. The ratings will include: exemplary, proficient, needs development or ineffective.