Fifty percent of a teacher’s evaluation will come from student standardized test results if a Louisiana House of Representatives bill passes during this legislative session.
House Bill 1033 was approved by the Louisiana Senate Education Committee last week and will move on to face action in the full Senate. The bill requires student growth, as measured by standardized tests, to count for 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation each year. The remaining portions of the evaluation would include principal observations, peer reviews and other indicators. It would also require formal reviews be performed annually, instead of once every three years.
The bill was endorsed by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, but local school administrators are concerned about the effects it could have on St. Charles schools.
While St. Charles administrators are glad for parts of the bill – like a portion that will create a consistent rubric for teacher proficiency across the state – they are very concerned about other parts.
"We think (the Senate) will definitely go forth with this," said Felicia Gomez, assistant superintendent of secondary schools and quality assurance in St. Charles. "The thing that concerns us is the value-added portion."
Under the bill, teachers would be rated based on their effectiveness, which would be determined by a value-added measurement of student growth. Student information, such as socio-economic background, academic history, and other factors would be used to predict how much a student should learn in one year. Standardized tests, such as the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (LEAP), would then determine whether students learned more or less than predicted. Those outcomes will count for half of the teachers’ evaluations.
Teachers whose students do not reach their growth target could be deemed "ineffective."
Once judged to be ineffective, a teacher will be given targeted professional development activities to help them improve. However, if the teacher is rated as ineffective for three consecutive years during their certification renewal period, they will not be recertified to teach unless an appeal is made by the school board.
Some local principals said they are concerned about the formula because they can’t seem to get a straight answer on how it will be implemented.
"They won’t release the formula, so it’s kind of hard for us to know if that’s a valid piece of data," said A.J. Pethe, principal at Luling Elementary School. "How do you determine what makes a bigger impact: socio-economic background, academic history, attendance data…I want to know how they are factoring this in."
Hahnville High School Principal Ken Oertling said he is also concerned about the factors that will go into setting a student’s growth target.
"Who’s to tell me that because a student is on free/reduced lunch…or has parents who are divorced, that that has to do with a student taking a test?" Oertling said. "To tie that to a teacher’s tenure and rating is ridiculous. That’s an atrocity."
For courses that are not covered under standardized tests, Gomez said administrators are concerned because there are no statewide consistent assessments for those subjects.
For teachers in subjects that do not have a standardized test, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will require other measures. In the meantime, the teacher and a school administrator will be in charge of determining student growth targets in those areas.
With some of the highest performance scores in the state, St. Charles administrators are worried that this new "red tape" could inhibit their current, successful teaching and learning strategies.
"I think our students’ education is our top priority. In St. Charles Parish we know who are ineffective teachers and they don’t stay in the school system," Oertling said. "We’re not the top school in the state, but we certainly strive to be and the measures we have to help our teachers become better and our students perform at a higher level is working."
Pethe also said that the state shouldn’t try to fix districts that are not "broken."
"Our district is a B-rated district and we’re already doing above and beyond what the administration is requiring, but now we have to go through the red tape," Pethe said. "We can always improve, but let us continue to do what we’re doing to improve."