News Digest

Maryland Groups to Collaborate on Evaluation Process for Teachers, Principals

Maryland education officials, teachers unions and other education organizations signed a written agreement Friday to collaborate on methods for assessing classroom effectiveness, a central element of the state’s evaluation system for teachers and principals. Leaders representing teachers, principals, superintendents and other policymakers gathered in Baltimore to formalize the 12-point document, which they said will strengthen the evaluation system. The signing came during a meeting of the Maryland State Board of Education, one of the parties to the agreement.

How to Build a Better Teacher Evaluation System

New London school superintendent Nicholas Fisher writes for Education Week: Useful and effective evaluation systems need several basic building blocks. They require clarity and observability of standards in practice, a common language, calibration, consistency, documentation, a check for teacher comprehension, and an understanding of the "reasonable person" rule often expressed in state administrative hearings and state courts in connection with teacher- and other personnel-evaluation cases.

Teacher Evaluation: What Do We Want to Measure?

Andrew McEachin, an assistant professor of educational policy analysis and program evaluation at NC State University, writes for Rick Hess’Straight Up blog in Education Week:The best schools in the country, whether they are public or charter, voucher or magnet, spend a considerable amount of time on fostering a learning and professional development environment within their school building.

States Forge Ahead on Principal Evaluation

The number of states that mandate principal evaluations has jumped in recent years, driven by rules tying federal education aid to such policies. But many are still grappling with the best ways to measure principal effectiveness and the extent to which student performance should be included in evaluating principals. Since 2010, at least 36 states have adopted laws requiring principals to undergo regular assessments and increasing the rigor of those reviews, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The article is in Education Week.

Dealing With Bias in Teacher Evaluations

Improvements are needed in how classroom observations are measured if they are to carry the weight they are assigned in teacher evaluation. In particular, many districts do not have processes in place to address the possible biases in observation scores that arise from some teachers being assigned a more able group of students than other teachers. Teachers with students with higher incoming achievement levels receive classroom observation scores that are higher on average than those received by teachers whose incoming students are at lower achievement levels.

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.