Under a newly enacted state program, the first statewide teacher evaluations were released last week. In addition to providing a gauge for teacher performance, the evaluations are linked to pay increases.
St. Charles Parish Public Schools had the highest average in the New Orleans area of “highly effective” teachers and only one teacher graded “ineffective” in the entire school system.
Altogether, 95 percent of the parish’s 760 teachers who received evaluations were rated either “effective: proficient” or “highly effective” in comparison to the statewide average of 89 percent. Less than one percent were rated “ineffective” in comparison to four percent statewide.
Teachers who ranked from effective: emerging, effective: proficient to highly effective will receive a base $750 raise per year plus a one-time stipend of anywhere from $500 to $1,000 based on their teaching category and teacher performance scores.
Teachers who are found to be ineffective will not be eligible for a raise and will undergo personalized training from the school district.
“If you are ineffective the first year you will go into an intensive assistance plan. If you are ineffective two years in a row you could risk termination,” St. Charles Parish
Public Schools Superintendent Felecia Gomez-Walker said.However, school administrators say that teacher evaluations are not a good tool in which to compare St. Charles Public Schools to other school systems.
“The report was not meant to pass judgment. The report was to provide schools with information that will help us to adjust our processes and our expectations,” Gomez-Walker said.
Only in its first year, Gomez-Walker said there are still a lot of changes that need to be made to the teacher evaluation system before it provides accurate results.
According to the administration, a big problem is that some teacher evaluations are based on student test scores while others are based on subjective goals
“One of the major obstacles that we’ve had with the whole evaluation process is that it is not equitable in terms of how the scores are derived,” Rachel Allemand, assistant superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment, said.
Gomez-Walker said the different evaluations make it difficult to compare teachers to one another.
“There were a myriad of variables there that are very new to teachers and new to administrators,” she said.
As the evaluations are conducted right now, Allemand is unsure if there is a way to make them more applicable for teacher comparisons.
“Obviously you don’t want to give statewide tests to preschool children and children enrolled in art classes, but the only way you would get the student outcome portion to be consistent is if you get everybody in the whole state to take the same assessment for every grade and every subject. That is not realistic,” she said.
Going forward, Gomez-Walker said St. Charles Public Schools will take into account the evaluation results and make adjustments where they can, but she was quick to point out that a lot of work needs to be done to get to a point where the evaluations are meaningful.
“This was the first year of the process. I think that in looking at this report that it is quite possible for people to make some assumptions about teacher performance at schools and districts that are totally inaccurate,” Gomez-Walker said.
Gomez-Walker said even State Superintendent of Education John White has admitted changes need to be made to the evaluations.
“The state superintendent also acknowledged that there should be changes. In fact his statement was ‘we will make adjustments as we move ahead.’ I think we concur with the state superintendent that adjustments should be made,”Gomez-Walker said.