Evaluating teachers: Can the governor’s reform panel get it right?

The education reform panel created by Gov. Nathan Deal is tackling many education challenges, but perhaps none thornier than how to evaluate and pay teachers.

The panel is considering abandoning the traditional model that rewards longevity and advanced degrees and instead link teacher raises to student test scores. Such value-added measures have resulted in ineffective ratings for even teachers whose students attain high scores, including Sheri G. Lederman, a New York teacher suing over a low rating that she, supported by national testing experts, maintains is the outcome of an unproven and unreliable formula.

Lily

NEA President and teacher Lily Eskelsen Garcia. (NEA)

“It is not only unproven, it’s proven to be corrupting,” said Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the 3 million member National Education Association, who was in Atlanta Tuesday for a town hall event with teachers. “If you use test data for something it was never designed to do, then you will corrupt the data, corrupt what you are trying to assess and measure. All the research says warning, warning, don’t do it.”

Having taught in a homeless shelter in Salt Lake City, Eskelsen Garcia said, “If you were going to base my evaluation on my student test scores — students who, by definition, are a transient community — I would last about 15 minutes, and I was Utah Teacher of the Year. As someone who loves being evaluated, you could not truly judge the skills I had working with students, whether gifted students in the suburbs or kids in the homeless shelter, by looking at test scores.”

Nor can a teacher’s effectiveness be captured in a brief classroom observation, she said. “I got five out of five on all my teacher evaluations because I had fabulous bulletin boards. You were walking into Disney World walking into my room. I like a lot of colorful things, but that, too, has nothing to do with my effectiveness at teaching.”

Georgia lawmakers have derided teacher evaluations as meaningless because everyone earns a satisfactory rating. But deeper evaluation systems are apparently rare. One national survey found 87 percent of employees and managers felt performance reviews were neither useful nor effective. A 2012 survey noted that 98 percent of the human resources managers did not think annual reviews were helpful. Best practices now recommend constant feedback, analysis and refinement rather than a calendar-dictated, checklist-driven review.

Few teacher evaluation models are regarded as both reliable and capable of giving teachers beneficial feedback. One cited by many education leaders, including Eskelsen Garcia, is the Professional Growth System in Montgomery County, Md.

Developed by the teachers’ union, school board and district, the Professional Growth System involves induction and mentoring of new teachers, ongoing job-embedded professional development and Peer Assistance and Review or PAR for teachers struggling to meet professional standards. In place for 15 years, the system is credited with contributing to the district’s rising academic achievement and relatively low teacher turnover.

The multi-layered approach allays teacher fears their assessment rests on the judgment of a single administrator or single set of test scores. In Montgomery, master teachers evaluate teachers found to be under performing. If the teachers continue to struggle despite mentoring and support, a panel of teachers and principals decides whether termination is justified. Hundreds of teachers have been fired or made the choice to leave rather than go through the PAR program.

“It is not a dog-and-pony show of flashy bulletin boards; it’s not where you sit on the edge of your seat and hope your special ed kids hit a certain cut score on a test or you might lose your job,” said Eskelsen Garcia.

Deal’s education reform panel seems to understand the complexities. At the most recent meeting, members paid close attention when interim Fulton Superintendent Kenneth Zeff warned them, “If evaluations don’t work, we have a problem.”

Reader Comments 0

117 comments
jerryeads
jerryeads

Must have been some interesting conversations below.

We know - We KNOW - that the usual simple solutions not only do not "work." They are grossly inaccurate and unrepresentative of actual teaching skill - and do more harm than good. What we have doesn't work either: a principal who may (and only too likely may not) have had successful teaching experience - and in any case may not have taught in decades - has no business at all evaluating someone's teaching acumen and skill. In any case, they most certainly do not have the time to evaluate teachers well even if they have the capacity. Decent evaluation won't happen for zero bucks. As with the Montgomery County model, it's VERY expensive, simply because it takes TIME, and it takes the TIME of enormously experienced and well-trained people to do the evaluations. Who when evaluating cannot be teaching..

As Jonathan Kozol would likely accuse, the folks with the purse may SAY they "care about THOSE kids" - but they don't, actually, because they will NEVER ante up the tax increases it will take to make good teacher evaluation happen.

JBBrown1968
JBBrown1968

Quido- Ya gotta stop the hating. Life's too short. It will be your undoing


Pig I am not hating. I am just calling you on your bullshot! You actually entertain me. I gave my wife your love....its only fair, I gave you your children.


Now..how do you know about most teachers and job abilities? Your governor has the ethics of a prostitute, but you are convinced he is or you are, the savior of education. No hate here Fredo, all humor.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Quidocetdiscit @JBBrown1968 

If so, he sure got the wrong "Quido."  I've read your posts for several years now, and you don't seem to hate anyone....though  you do get P.O.d by the teacher-bashers on here. But they're the ones doing the hating.

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@OriginalProf 


Thanks for the comment. Having recently been accused of both being full of hate and of putting everyone to sleep, it is heartening to hear my posts are appreciated by some.


Still trying to figure out how my posts can be both full of hate and also so boring as to be sleep inducing.  Seems like a bit of a dichotomy.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Quidocetdiscit @OriginalProf 

How can anyone go to sleep while you're relating the hard, gritty facts of your past teaching assignments with students who kick you and who hit you over the head with chairs?  Kindergartners who sexually assault one another digitally in rest-rooms, "acting out" because they are thus assaulted at home? Your posts have borne witness to the rough realities of classroom life for teachers, and I value them very much for that. I would never know about it otherwise, except through cold statistics.  Thank you.

Astropig
Astropig

@popcornular @OriginalProf @Quidocetdiscit @JBBrown1968


Thanks Pops, the mirth is priceless.



One thing that I think characterizes the status quo fossils in this space is their general lack of good humor. Like hormonal teenagers, everything is soooo serious. (And everyone is against them). The normal folks tend to approach the daily battles with a lot more good cheer,playfulness and general optimism. Perhaps it's because that they can see that the world that they knew is fast being swept away by events or by a general feeling that there must be fundamental change in education to bring it up to date (a la New Orleans) or whatever,but I have noticed a certain...stridency in their comments since last November.


Stop the hate! Embrace reform.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Astropig @popcornular @OriginalProf @Quidocetdiscit @JBBrown1968 

If only our bashers had some good humor. Such tired "jokes" about teacher stereotypes that were outdated 10 years ago, and the same "jokes" over and over. I keep hearing the jokers saying to themselves, "Boy, that's a good one! I bet they never heard that one before."  No wit, no good puns...

Astropig
Astropig

@OriginalProf @Astropig @popcornular @Quidocetdiscit @JBBrown1968


You're missing the bigger point. The jokes are just as funny as they ever were. But it's more than just joking about teachers and educrats in general. It's the general feeling that something good is happening in education with parental empowerment and greatly expanded choice for kids and parents.It's that surge of adrenaline when we overcome the mossback,hidebound status quo fossils and the media and go over their heads to the general public and win some important battles.It's planting trees in which we will never enjoy the shade. It's exciting to live in this day and this age when lots of great things have become possible.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Astropig @OriginalProf @popcornular @Quidocetdiscit @JBBrown1968 

I'm going to be sincere here. You may have these feelings. I believe you. But I have a genuine feeling of dread that the entire field of education is about to be sold away from the public to the highest bidder, the one who is most politically connected. And I don't think I'm alone.

popcornular
popcornular

@OriginalProf @Quidocetdiscit

If it's not middle school boy's locker rooms, it's kindergartners who sexually assault each other?? Where are your minds? I wonder about you two. And where is Dr. Frieda Freuda when you so desperately need her?

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@popcornular @OriginalProf @Quidocetdiscit


My mind is right where it belongs, seated in reality.  And yes, it was kindergartners involved in the sexual assault I discussed, so what?  I should ignore it because it is too "real" for your tastes?  Somehow I need a psychologist because I deal in the reality of my job, whereas you just deal in snark?

Jim Retired
Jim Retired

Nathan, we have a problem. Unlike paying back the Federal Government the slight $250 million error for your friend in Assisted Living Care, the Education System of Georgia, can not wait for years, without being hurt.

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

Standardized tests are a great way to identify the teachers who can't teach, but rather just give out As and Bs to keep parents and students from pestering them.  


That alone makes them worthwhile.  If a teacher is giving good grades and the students don't know the material, then that teacher needs to be removed.  Tests are the perfect way to figure that out.  

heyteacher
heyteacher

@Looking4truth @class80olddog


Unfortunately summer school has been phased out in many districts -- teachers are supposed to "remediate" at the end of the semester and pass the kids as there are few options for them. A "C" is the new "D". 

Looking4truth
Looking4truth

@dcdcdc  I'm not sure if all systems have a "truth-in-grading" policy.  If they do, their test scores should be a close match their grades.  When I taught, that was the case with my kids.  I could predict their test scores based on their grades in my class. I wasn't wrong too often.  A child who genuinely earned an "A" usually exceeded on their tests.  I'm waiting to hear from my friends if the new Milestone reflects a similar trend. 

Looking4truth
Looking4truth

@class80olddog  No - I conferenced with the parents and if learning wasn't demonstrated, they didn't get a passing grade.  They went to summer school. 

class80olddog
class80olddog

What about those who were clearly failing- did you sometimes give them a D?

Looking4truth
Looking4truth

@class80olddog  Yes.  If there was any grade changing, I was not asked to do it.  I cannot speak for anything that the administrators did or did not change.  By the way, I would drop in on summer school to see who was there (if any grade manipulation had occurred).  The kids that struggled in my class were there getting remediation as was recommended. 

anothercomment
anothercomment

My daughter is the disciplinary chair of a soriety at GA State. They currently going into Recruitment have 14 members on Discipline . For low grades less than a 2.4 GPA and as my daughter says these are the easy major girls. I probed some facts to try to get some sence of the problem. They currently have 70 members. They will take approx. 40 at recruitment this weekend. The lowest GPA out of Highest school they will take is 3.0. Then I asked her what GPA do you use for that cut. Well we let them write it down, I put my 3.9 overall GPA, but you know my HOPE was 3.57. ( I have been mentoring a St. Francis student and one GRA is a 84, one is a 80.6 and then when I try to calculate the HOPE they do not come close to qualifying; the same thing with a South Cobb Student I mentored a year ago who had a 3.045 but not the HOPE eligibility because of strength of schedule).

My daughter is a STEM major and tells me that only she and one other member are STEM majors. They have high GPA's in College above 3.7. She shares that the two of them are confounded with the low grades of girls that all had 3.0 and above going into college. They are coming from some of the better schools in the area. One near and dear to Maureen's Heart comes up frequently. She even had a girl that was in IB at the school she graduated from. Accounting did her in, that maybe Kathy Cox's Math 1,2,3 legacy.

There are big time grade inflation problems to meet the HOPE. Then it is quickly lost in college.

Maybe teachers and Administrators should be given a bonus based upon how many students graduate from high school, then how many maintain their HOPE for 4 years. How many graduate from college in 4 years, How many non College educated can earn a Non poverty level job 5 years out of High school ( are they really career ready) after all isn't this our goals.

JBBrown1968
JBBrown1968

AstroPig, DcDc and PopCrupt


High school kids would eat you fools alive! I would pay to see you arm chair nuts take over my wife's classroom. Pitiful how these people feed you trolls! 

Astropig
Astropig

@JBBrown1968


" I would pay to see you arm chair nuts take over my wife's classroom. "


Ironic,seeing as how most teachers couldn't get jobs in money in/money out businesses to save their lives.


But do send her my love.

popcornular
popcornular

@Quidocetdiscit

Stop blaming others for the reputation of teachers. Take a good look in the mirror. By always blaming others, you are setting a bad example for your students. Shine, don't Whine!



Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@Astropig @Quidocetdiscit @JBBrown1968


You suggest most teachers are too stupid to handle the "real world" and then have the gall to tell me I gotta stop with the "hating"?


 Not hating.  Just tired of the BS.  If the BS was harmless, it wouldn't bother me.  But this BS has pervaded the general public and is having a detrimental effect on my ability to do my job, the moral in my school, how I engage with my students, parental attitude and potentially, my paycheck.

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@Astropig 


moral vs morale


Yeah, I made a mistake.  What can I say, we can't all be as perfect as you.  I mean, if we were who would you have to lord over?

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@popcornular @Quidocetdiscit


I do shine, but it does not matter to folks like you, because YOU judge me based upon the reputation of teachers, which folks like YOU continue to undermine.  So see, I have a vested interest in speaking up,  but when I dare to do so, you accuse me of being a "whiner."  Cute little destructive, cyclical racket you have going.


As for looking in the mirror, I do so with nary a flinch.  I know I have done my best to support the learning and growth of hundreds of young people.  Seems like a more worthy legacy than being an Internet troll, don't you think?



MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

To all who are interested in classroom discipline:

The essence in the difference between redweather's post and mine, relative to cause and effect is "which comes first the chicken or the egg."  Redweather's words, paraphrased and summarized, stated that teachers should have excellent instructional skills (communication and curriculum area knowledge) and classroom discipline.  He states that without discipline it is "almost impossible" to achieve excellent instructional skills in the classroom, as if discipline is a separate skill which is first imposed before instruction can happen. Redweather says that the egg comes first (get discipline established, first) and, then, the chicken will follow (an excellent lesson based on excellent instruction).


My post reverses his order and his thinking (which is a fundamental difference in educational philosophy).  I state that when the teacher has excellent instructional skills (communication and knowledge), then disciplinary concerns will take care of themselves because the students will be authentically involved in the ideas/skills/concepts within the day's lesson and will not be thinking about how to disrupt the class.  I say, then, that the chicken comes first (excellent lesson based on excellent instruction) and that the disciplinary egg, if you will, is, thereafter, produced, naturally.


Of course, in reality both of these different approaches are used by various teachers in various degrees in the classroom just as some actors find their roles by going inward for the character's essence, and other actors will manifest their roles through external techniques such as gestures, costumes, etc.  In truth, both techniques are used on the stage by actors, just as some teachers will enforce discipline both through a disciplinary plan, in and of itself, and other teachers will enforce that discipline through ensuring that they have stimulating, motivational lessons, filled with interest and complexity, each day.


That is why at the end, redweather and I were both in agreement that both (or all three, as you may count) ways go "hand-in-hand," just as the outstanding actor has both internal and external techniques to fully manifest his role on the stage during performance.

Belinda51
Belinda51

We are perfectly capable of reading posts without your having to explain everything to us. We may not be as "nuanced" as you, but we don't need recaps.

class80olddog
class80olddog

I am waiting for the evaluation system for ADMINISTRATORS and PARENTS.

MarkGordon
MarkGordon

@class80olddog The current evaluation system for administrators is very similar to the one used for teachers except student test scores account for 70% of the evaluation

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@class80olddog And the LEGISLATORS and GOVERNOR who determine how little money will be spent on education each year!  I see lots of Fs coming!

class80olddog
class80olddog

Yes, by all means, let's use the government model for schools- no one ever gets fired, money is spent unchecked, and poor results are common and accepted. Lying is the norm. That is a lot better than the business model.

Moderate_line
Moderate_line

One observation I have had in my life is when I went to private vendor training rarely do you have a bad instructor. The only time I have had a bad instructor is when someone internal to the organization I work for does the training and they are chosen simply because they are the technical expert. When I went back to university for my Masters degree  the first thing I noticed was how bad some of the instructors were. Why? Because they were not their because they were good instructors. They were there because they could be published..