Two Senate bills side with teachers: Student growth on tests should not count for half their rating

testartTwo bills in the state Senate seek to reduce the influence of student test scores on teacher evaluations. The law now calls for student growth — as measured by testing — to count for half of a teacher’s annual rating.

Senate Bill 364 comes today from Sen. Lindsey Tippins, R-Marietta, chairman of the Senate Education and Youth Committee. The bill would reduce the weight of student growth scores to 30 percent, which aligns with most other states.

A day earlier, Sen. William T. Ligon, R-Brunswick, introduced a bill that goes even further; Senate Bill 355 reduces the weight of the test scores to 10 percent.

According to the AJC’s Ty Tagami:

Tippins’ bill would reduce the weight of tests in teacher evaluations to 30 percent or less in school districts that enter a “flexibility” contract with the state, meaning districts that opt to become either charter districts or system waiver districts. The other bill — William T. Ligon, Jr., R-Brunswick is the chief co-sponsor — goes further, limiting tests to a maximum 10 percent of evaluations.

The current mandate for evaluations, adopted by the General Assembly in 2013, requires student “growth” on tests to count for at least half of each teacher’s evaluation.

The Tippins bill is not yet up on the AJC Legislative Navigator or the General Assembly site. It will be posted tomorrow. Here is an excerpt from the Ligon legislation:

(1) Due to the unscientific and unreliable methods of measuring student growth, the percentage amount of any teacher’s evaluation dependent on student test performance should be drastically reduced;

(2) The recent federal study by the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, which is part of the Institute of Education Sciences of the United States Department of Education, reveals that the value added models are not capable of  measuring a teacher’s effect on student learning in just one year;

(3) Even over three years, these measures of effectiveness still do not meet the .85 level of reliability traditionally desired in scores used for high-stakes decisions (Haertel, 2013; Wasserman & Bracken, 2003); and (4) The study strongly cautions states that are considering the student growth percentile model for teacher accountability about using the scores for high-stakes decisions.

Here is a response from DOE today on the Tippins bill:

State School Superintendent Richard Woods today released the following statements regarding SB 364, which would decrease the number of tests students have to take, as well as lower the weight of test results on the state’s teacher and leader evaluation system.

SB 364 would:

  • Reduce the number of state tests from 32 to 24
  • Reduce the weight of student test scores on the teacher evaluation system from 50% to 30%, with the remaining percentage coming from professional growth plans

On the reduction of state-mandated tests:

“I wholeheartedly support Senator Lindsey Tippins’ bill, SB 364, because it reflects many of the issues I’ve felt all along are burdensome to student learning and the recruitment and retention of our best teachers. The federal government requires 11 tests; Georgia requires almost three times that. Realignment is needed, and SB 364 would do just that, reducing the number of state-mandated tests students must take. By streamlining testing requirements, we can free up schools to focus on literacy and numeracy in the early grades, giving students a better foundation for success.”

On lowering the weight of test scores in the teacher and leader evaluation systems and adding a true professional growth component to the teacher and leader evaluation systems:

“I also am in full support of SB 364 because it reduces the percentage that student test scores count for teachers’ and leaders’ evaluations. Not only are Georgia students suffering from over-testing, Georgia teachers are, too. We need to loosen the weight of test scores for teacher evaluation and fill the gap with a professional growth component, which is just what SB 364 proposes. This would allow the evaluation system to become more of a coaching tool instead of a ‘gotcha’ tool. We conducted a survey of more than 53,000 Georgia teachers, and an overwhelming percentage selected ‘number of state-mandated tests’ and the ‘method for evaluating teachers’ as the main reasons why 44 percent of newly hired teachers leave the profession within five years. SB 364 will provide a better tool for teachers and also help recruit and retain the best teachers.”

On requiring students to be in class more to count toward a teacher’s performance:

Another issue SB 364 addresses has to do with the percentage of days students have to be present in class to be counted toward a teacher’s performance. Currently, students have to be in class only 65% of the time in order to count toward a teacher’s performance.

“The current 65% is far too low, and the SB 364 legislation to raise that to 80% is much more reasonable. Teachers should not be responsible for students who are not in class.”

On allowing all districts to implement tiered observations:

“We know a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work for our students, and it doesn’t work for our teachers, either. I appreciate that SB 364 allows for tiered observations for our best teachers, which will free up administrators to spend more time with new or weaker teachers while giving teachers who receive high evaluation scores the benefit of fewer observations and more flexibility in the classroom.”

Reader Comments 0

53 comments
jerryeads
jerryeads

Was pleased to see your print piece this morning. Fascinating that were Jerry Bracey still with us he and Petrilli would agree :-). The DOE might spend $25 a kid rather than $12, but Millstones is still just an unproven low-bid minimum competency bubble test. No one has EVER even thought of asking the question whether the tests help teachers help kids be better. Of course, none of all this testing has, which is why, in spite of our testing until we're blue in the face, neither scores on NAEP nor for that matter any other indicator that might actually reflect learning have risen.

Wouldn't it be nice if we spent that $25 on something that might actually help kids - and help teachers help kids?

BRAVO for Ligon and Tippins for listening to the research - and educators. Ligon's 10% might be closer to appropriate given there's no evidence whatsoever that the Millstones data have anything whatsoever to do with actual learning.

HS_Math_Teacher
HS_Math_Teacher

The pendulum had swung much too far in the big "re-reform movement", and it's now coming back slowly to the common sense center.  Intelligence & Wisdom are two great virtues; however, if I had to choose an abundance of one, I'd choose the latter. We need more wisdom from common-sensed people who have spent years in challenging teaching environments, and less from the Ph.D crowd who haven't hit the lick of a snake teaching outside of North Metro Atlanta. 

Starik
Starik

@HS_Math_Teacher This is a microagression against reptiles generally, and especially snakes. Watch it.

Beach Bound2020
Beach Bound2020

From the Ligon Bill: "(1) Due to the unscientific and unreliable methods of measuring student growth, the percentage amount of any teacher’s evaluation dependent on student test performance should be drastically reduced;"


Would someone please name for me one other profession that has state professional standards and requires a license to practice, who would allow in mass, ANY part of their evaluation to be based on something that is known to be unscientific and unreliable? 


And I understand why we will be facing a major teacher shortage in the coming years...



Starik
Starik

@Beach Bound2020 Teaching should be a serious profession; the job is important.  In law, people have to pass a bar exam, which is actually fairly difficult. In medicine, rigorous testing and board certification tests for specialties.  Teaching?  An easy test that can be passed by almost anybody. 


Where were your kids' teachers educated?  Who knows? 


We need to act to screen applicants for teaching jobs in a meaningful way and need to get rid of the worst teachers.  Without standards, how?

Christie_S
Christie_S

@Starik @Beach Bound2020 Really? An "easy test that can be passed by almost anybody?" Jeezus, I'm so sick of folks who think that just because they went to school, they can teach it. 

If the tests (because there are many more than just one licensure exam for the varied grade level/subject level specialties) are so easy, why don't you drop your nickel down and join our not-so-exclusive club?


Where were your kids' teachers educated?  It's generally written on their diplomas, just like doctors and lawyers. The biggest difference there is doctors and lawyers are encouraged to put up their diplomas in their offices. Teachers aren't allowed to put up private, personal belongings in their classrooms. If you are truly curious or concerned where your kids' teachers were educated, why don't you do something radically different...ask.


Starik
Starik

@Christie_S @Starik @Beach Bound2020 My kids are done, thank God.  Anybody can look up credentials for doctors online... where did you get your education?  What was your class standing? What do you teach? Do you know the subject you teach. If you want to be a professional, be one, and the schools will become an institution for teaching rather than a cushy employment option.

elementary-pal
elementary-pal

@Starik @Christie_S @Beach Bound2020  For many of us this information is available on our class websites.  For ALL of us it has to be made available to anyone who asks.  If you don't know where your kids' teachers were educated or what degree they have or what subjects they teach or what tests they have passed, it is simply because you have not asked. 


MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

It is good to know that teachers' voices are being heard and taken seriously in Georgia's legislature.


Thank you, Maureen, for this public forum in which teachers may share their thoughts, forthrightly.

class80olddog
class80olddog

What?!  Someone else recognizes that teachers cannot teach empty desks?  Say it ain't so! 

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

If variation in teachers is found to account for 11%of the variation in student scores, then no more than 11% of a teacher evaluation should be based on these scores.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Wascatlady And student scores on end of course tests should count a lot more than 20% - at least 50%

Outspoken Mom
Outspoken Mom

I cannot fathom that the GADOE did not release a statement YESTERDAY after SB355 was dropped, which is called the Student/Teacher Protection Act.


Here are the points the SB 355 covers:

1. To reduce the amount student scores affect teachers and administrators from 50% and 70% respectively to 10% and 40%.

2. To demand all written assessments tied to high stakes (teacher certifications, jobs or student promotion/placement) be statistically certified as reliable and valid as outlined by AERA, APA, ASA and NC.

3. To increase the number of years a teacher has to earn proficient or exemplary performance evaluation, before their certificate is put in jeopardy (increased from 2 to 3 years).

4. To eliminate any test score from a child who has missed more than 10 days of school from calculations used against teachers and schools.

5. To allow for all SLOs and local subject area tests or benchmarks to be certified reliable and valid by the GADOE and such methods and results be publically posted.

6. To allow for a tiered observation schedule giving flexibility to those teachers who previously received high scores.

7. To allow for comprehensive professional development plans for those teachers who score low on their annual evaluations. These plans are meant to be constructive and positive development not punitive measures.

8. To prevent any standardized test, be it federal, state or local from assessing or measuring personal or family beliefs or attitudes and prevent young and disabled students from being assessed at the highest order of thinking levels when their brains are not yet developed enough to do so.

9. To require reporting to teachers and parents specific skills and areas of strength and weakness as assessed by end-of-grade tests rather than general domains which are useless in directing curriculum or learning.

10. To require specific parent permission for any child with a disability to take end of grade or end of course tests.

11. To be clear that an opportunity for taking such tests shall not be interpreted as a mandate to take such tests.

12. To allow children with disabilities to be tested at their functional level rather than forcing a test at grade level that can not be accessed even with the highest levelof accommodations.

13. To free teachers, administrators, schools and systems from being penalized for any child who does not participate in assessments.

14. To limit end-of-course tests to 10% of a student’s final grade.

15. To allow for parent, psychologist or physician refusal of any mandated test.

16. To prevent any punitive repercussions toward any student or teacher, including“sit and stare,” as a result of refusal of any standardized testing.

17. To provide for an educational setting and continued instruction for those children who refuse testing.

18.To cap the amount of instructional time spent on testing and test prep to 2%.

19. To prevent grade level retention based solely on the refusal of, or excuse from, any mandated test.

20. To offer an alternative test should a child fail the end-of-grade assessment on the first administration of the test. A parent may choose to have their child given the ITBS in lieu of a second administration of the end-of-grade test.

21. To allow promotion to the next grade level based on performance on the ITBS.

22. To exempt children and families from being reported to DFCS for truancy if missed school days are a result of refusal of, or excuse from, an end-of-year or end-of-course test.

23. To allow for paper-and-pencil testing on any standardized test should an IEP or parent request it. 

Seems like a MUCH better deal for our children and teachers to me.

Jaz McIntosh
Jaz McIntosh

Because we aren't stupid enough as is it.

Jenna Milam Baird
Jenna Milam Baird

How much "growth" could my A+child possibly have? We need SB355 to protect teachers AND STUDENTS.

Starik
Starik

Your A+ child may be less prepared than it appears. That's why we have standardized testing.  A kid in Massachusetts may have a much more meaningful A+.

Mack68
Mack68

@Starik I think her point is that our state's test is not not sensitive enough to detect growth in kids who are far above grade level.

If you're testing the kid on 8th grade math and they kid is already taking 9th grade content, the 8th grade "standards" test is not going to detect that growth.

CSpinks
CSpinks

@Mack68 @Starik During The Great Recession, in a move to save money- or so the educrats said- the GaDOE declined to continue to finance ITBS testing by local education agencies throughout our state. Of course, I'm sure that our kids' dismal performance on this measure had absolutely nothing to do with our educrats' decision to protect the fiscal integrity of our state's education department. Fast forward to 2015, about six years after the GaDOE's prudential elimination of statewide ITBS testing: In 2015, the GaDOE signed a $100M+ contract with a testing conglomerate to devise valid and reliable measures of our kids' knowledge and skills. Deep Throat may have a word of advice for us folks concerned about the success of GaPubEd's efforts to educate our kids- all of them: "Follow the money."


Mack68
Mack68

@Starik yet another reason why we should be using a respected nationally normed test like ITBS instead of wasting untold millions in state tax dollars on another minimum competency test

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

Surely the legislature is using proven research on the the effect of teacher presentation on student test scores as their guide-or maybe just guessing.


Also wonder if managers would like to be held responsible for performance of workers who show up 80% of the time.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@AvgGeorgian If you adopted a "business model" - then students who showed up only 80% of the time would be "fired" - i.e. transferred to an alternative school.

Sheva Bree
Sheva Bree

I may be confused by your use of all caps. But this is actually a good thing. Standardized tests are already weighted against minority kids and poor kids. Not to mention that they are not an accurate measure of what children are learning. And I say this as someone who tested well as a child. My kids just happen to test well, but just because they can fill in bubbles and know how to eliminate the wrong answers first doesn't mean that their daily grades match up to their test scores. So not blaming teachers for the students who don't test well.. this is a good thing.

class80olddog
class80olddog

Yes, it has been shown that standardized tests are weighted heavily against those who don't know the subject matter.

Sylvia Lewis
Sylvia Lewis

WTH...have -you- people lost your ever-loving minds; WHAT ABOUT: PARENTS, CHILD IQ, SOCIETY INFLUENCES, TEACHERS (???), EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS, LEADERSHIP INEPTNESS, POLITICAL INEPTNESS...and, HOW KNOWS...??? EXACTLY 'HOW' IS A [hood] MINORITY CHILD SUPPOSED TO SUCCEED?!

CSpinks
CSpinks

Sylvia,  THANKS  for including your name with your comment.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

The Georgia Association of Educators issued this statement about the two Senate bills:


Both SB 364 (Sen. Tippins) and SB 355 (Sen. Ligon) are steps in the right direction toward addressing our concerns over TKES (Teacher Keys Evaluation System),” said Dr. Sid Chapman, president of the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE), referring to the recent legislation dropped by both senators addressing many educators’ concerns over the state’s teacher and administrator evaluation processes

 “We would like to thank them both on their efforts to help bring some rationality to the process.  We have been working Sen. Tippins and Rep. Brooks Coleman on the issue and were pleasantly surprised to see Sen. Ligon’s bill.” 

GAE had earlier expressed major concerns:

1)No appeals process exists for any portion of the TKES process and the use of the rating “ineffective,” which constitutes evidence of incompetency and circumvents the Fair Dismissal procedure;

2) The TEM (Teacher Effectiveness Measure) continues to rely upon student surveys from students too young to provide reliable survey data according to the Department of Education; and

3) The new TKES regulations create a presumption of incompetence upon the first negative performance review for even the most seasoned educators. 

GAE says after a very cursory look some positive aspects of both bills address those concerns including: Reducing the percentage of a teacher’s, principal’s, and assistant principal’s evaluation that comes from student standardized test.

 We have always argued that children are not widgets on an assembly line and that each and every class brings a multitude of different variables into each classroom that makes it inherently difficult, if not impossible, to fairly and comparatively measure. Requiring a cap on instructional hours that can be devoted to taking and preparing for mandated local, state and federal assessments. 

 We applaud any effort to reduce unnecessary, toxic testing. The key is to strike the right balance needed to properly measure a child’s progress and use the information diagnostically to his or her benefit. Looking at the number of unsatisfactory, ineffective or needs development evaluation for a renewable certificate.   

While this is a step in the right direction, there still needs to be a process that allows educators to appeal violations of evaluation ratings and procedures. Looking at lowering the percentage of a student’s final grade that can be based on end-of-course assessments and that SLOs, SGO benchmarks be proven reliable and valid by DOE.  This indicates a true recognition of the need to reduce the subjectivity of the process. We laud all efforts to make the process as objective as possible.

 “Overall, we are very pleased to see these efforts to address deficiencies in the evaluation process,” notes Chapman. “We will continue to work with all legislators interested in helping reach this goal.”

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

It IS nice to see that someone is listening. What do you want to bet they get pulled from leadership in committees, etc?

Cobbian
Cobbian

"..current mandate for evaluations, adopted by the General Assembly in 2013, requires student “growth” on tests to count for at least half of each teacher’s evaluation."


So, now, our brilliant legislators know that the current system is wrong, but rather than just fix that, they want to tie it to another "guess" they made that charter schools or "strategic waivers" are going to make schools better.  Why not just fix the problem with the teacher evaluations?  Then we can see if the other two programs are going to be as bad or surprise us and make a difference in public education in Georgia.  

Starik
Starik

How do we evaluate teachers, then? There has to be an objective standard.

Starik
Starik

@AvgGeorgian @Mack68 @Starik Still, we have to have a way to do it. My suggestion is to evaluate the Principal based on test performances, and make him/her responsible, with freedom to hire and fire.  Don't you agree we have to come up with something?

Starik
Starik

@ATeacherLikeMe I encountered a number of bad teachers, far too unprepared to teach. This can be fixed by raising standards. Can't do much about the kids or parents, they are what they are. We can get rid of large failed school districts, however, and raise standards for principals and school board members. See DeKalb.

Mack68
Mack68

@Starik Georgia's Student Growth Percentile is a complex statistical model based solely on the state's standardized test (now the Milestones), and for purposes of teacher evaluations is not stable or reliable enough to make high-stakes decisions. 

Don't take my word for it. Read the statement from the American Statistical Association: http://www.amstat.org/policy/pdfs/asa_vam_statement.pdf

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Mack68 @Starik


Let's see- to evaluate teachers you would have to have a state curriculum with training and materials that could be adequately presented in the given time. You would have to have a pretest and post-test with adjustment for individual student learning potential,past performance, attendance, and amount of homework/studying done. You would have to control for any abnormalities in class time interruptions or local hindrances to presentation.. well you get the picture.

ATeacherLikeMe
ATeacherLikeMe

Why? Why ar we so sure it's the teachers and not us? Why the big fight to get rid of Common Core if we don't want to see how we stack up against other states? Maybe instead of so much reform, we can just focus on teaching. The results of the statewide test revealed that the students in the entire state are not proficient, both minority and white kids-lest we forget the state is not just Atlanta. We should be concerned with the fact that inclusion is not appropriate for all kids, both with and without disabilities. We aren't preparing them for a future when we ask them to do the same work under the pretense they are aiming for the same goal.

NikoleA
NikoleA

Why would this only be applied to charter or waiver districts? Shouldn't we all be held to the same standard?

DisenchantedVoter
DisenchantedVoter

So pleased to see these proposals for necessary changes for educators and students. For my kids' sake, I really hope these pass. I will be contacting my legislators.

HILUX
HILUX

Accountability improves student learning, and the evidence of this keeps growing. 

The latest comes from a study of Washington D.C.'s now rigorous teacher evaluation system. The study was carried out by the Stanford Graduate School of Education and the University of Virginia Curry School of Education.

It found that the mere threat of removal forces low-performing teachers to either leave the profession or shape up. And those choosing to leave tend to be replaced by better quality teachers. 

This churn in the Washington D.C. public schools teacher workforce improved annual student learning by four months in reading and math, conclude the researchers. And they note that high-poverty schools experience the most benefit from tougher teacher evaluations -- because that's where low-performing teachers tend to congregate.

But I wonder if Senators Tippins or Ligon intended their unlikely bills to be the excuse for this newspaper column to trot out, yet again, the teachers' union argument against accountability.

HILUX
HILUX

@AvgGeorgian @HILUX 

The reason you have so much free time becomes more apparent with your every post.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@HILUX @AvgGeorgian 

Uh. Did you go to  a failing school that did not teach you about quotes and citations, or how to detect sarcasm/irony. Is that why you are mad at teachers?

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@HILUX Do you have evidence that research was done on the same students with the same tests and the same cut scores? If not.....


Using your method, I could say--- The changes in the DC schools was brought about by teaching narrowly to the test, changing cut scores, reducing recess, art, and music. The changes also left DC with very low scores compared to the U.S. overall and made no difference in upward mobility after leaving DC schools.