State school board wants teacher evals based on student performance

• Teachers call move ‘unfair’: cite ‘huge variability and opinions’
By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

HOMER TRIBUNE/Sean Pearson - Homer Middle School students take a moment at the school’s flags that were flown half-mast in honor of shooting victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. last week.

HOMER TRIBUNE/Sean Pearson - Homer Middle School students take a moment at the school’s flags that were flown half-mast in honor of shooting victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. last week.

A controversial move by the Alaska State Board of Education last week to incorporate student performance into teachers’ job evaluations has educators bristling at what feels to them to be an attempt to fit unstandardizable qualities into a standardized system of evaluation.
There are many influences on how a student performs that are out of a teacher’s control, including home life, health, whether they got a good night’s sleep, whether they ate breakfast, etc.
Evaluating a teacher’s performance in part based on how students perform on standardized testing is unfair, said Wayne Floyd, a 30-plus-year teacher at Nikiski North Star Elementary, and one of more than 900 people who submitted comments on the state board proposal.
“The student population is a moving target that’s never the same from year to year,” Floyd said. “It’s not something that can be predicted, just based on the dynamics of each year’s class.”
The new rule stipulates that by the 2015-16 school year, 20 percent of a teacher’s assessment will be based on student performance, increasing to 50 percent of the evaluation by 2018-19.
The standardized test piece is particularly worrisome, given debate over the accuracy of gauging student performance through that approach.
“Research has shown that written tests only measure a certain percentage. Maybe about 40 percent of the student population can be measured accurately that way,” Floyd explained. “There are other things that need to come into play addressing the other areas of learning. Now you’re running into huge variability and opinions. That’s the problem with humanities — they’ve tried to make it scientific for years and there’s always that human element that throws science out of the window at times.”
Floyd is not opposed to the idea of holding teachers accountable for the achievement of their students, but wants to see it done in a way that is reasonable and takes into account the reality that student performance hinges on more than just teacher effectiveness.
“It’s fine that we’re pushing for improvements, but it needs to be fair,” Floyd said. “If it’s going to be a fair system, it needs to be based on factors that are predictable and measurable, and in most cases that’s not going to happen year after year.”
LaDawn Druce, president of the Kenai Peninsula Education Association, testified in opposition of the proposal to the state board of education in Anchorage.
Druce said she is concerned new teachers will be unfairly evaluated in the new state system, arguing that they shouldn’t be expected to rate above basic until they’ve had a few years under their feet. The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District revamped its teacher evaluation system about three years ago to incorporate Charlotte Danielson’s “Framework for Teaching” model. Teachers are rated unsatisfactory, basic, proficient or exemplary in four areas: planning and preparation, classroom environment, instruction and professional responsibilities.
Floyd also endorsed the KPBSD model, saying it has already demonstrated an impact on the quality of teaching in the district. Druce said that, as a 30-year teacher, Floyd should be expected to perform at a higher level than a first-year educator, but state standards don’t seem to allow for that growth in new teachers.
“We do recognize teachers have to be more than basic, but they don’t have to be more than basic if they’re just starting out and learning. The state is basically saying, ‘No, everyone has to be proficient right off the bat.’ That’s not a growth model,” she said.
Druce said she is frustrated with how the decision came about. The proposal went out to public comment first with the figure that 20 percent of teacher evaluations will be based on student performance data. A newly revised proposal came out at the beginning of last week which incorporated Gov. Sean Parnell’s request that the percentage be raised to 50. The proposal with that revision didn’t go back through the public comment period and the change wasn’t well noticed, Druce said.
“It’s just very frustrating to know they had that many people comment and they changed it again at the last minute without giving public notice of it. I think that’s a big concern for a lot of people that they’re not going to let people weigh in on it after it changed from 20 percent up to 50 percent. The process of that was discouraging,” she said.
KPBSD Superintendent Steve Atwater also testified to the state board of education, but had a more moderate take on the change. KPBSD has already been heading in the direction the new state regs are going, so it’s more a matter of aligning the district’s progress to the state’s direction, rather than inventing a whole new wheel.
“We’re actually in really good shape that way, and the state looks to us as being the leader,” Atwater said. “Inside of the regs are the criteria that a teacher is either unsatisfactory, basic, proficient or exemplary, and those already exist for us. We’ve got that piece in place. What we don’t have in place is the student learning component and we have started working on that.”
The state regulation stipulates that a district can choose among four ways to measure student achievement. One must be standardized statewide, but each district can determine the other three.
As part of its curriculum development process, the district is building quarterly assessments into each subject area. For instance, students will write on a prompt at the beginning of a quarter, and again at the end of a quarter. The amount of progress shown on those assessments could be used in teacher evaluations.
And the assessments don’t have to be paper-and-pencil tests, in the traditional sense. It could be that students give a presentation to show proficiency of what they’ve been learning, or successfully conduct a science experiment, or be able to run a certain distance in a certain time frame. The goal is that the assessments fit in with the curriculum as it’s being taught. At the same time, the curriculum is being designed to meet standards outside of just the district.
This is the first time the district has built quarterly assessments into the curriculum and that process takes time. The committee leading the effort started out last year tackling one content area a year.
“But now you have to have these in place for 2015-16, which means we will have to devote a lot of time and energy to every content area,” he said.
Atwater requested the state provide financial support to districts in order to make this change. So far, no fiscal note is attached to the regulation revision.
Druce also requests state support to come up with assessments that will be incorporated into curriculum on which student progress can be measured, and teachers then evaluated.
“This stuff doesn’t happen overnight, to do it right,” Druce said.
Atwater was less bothered by the mechanism linking teacher evaluations to student performance via a standardized test, since each district can determine the other three assessment methods on which to evaluate teachers.
He said he didn’t want to diminish the understanding that there are variables that affect student learning over which teachers don’t have control, but he is generally in agreement with the idea of linking student performance with teacher performance.

Contact the writer
Posted by on Dec 26th, 2012 and filed under Headline News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

7 Responses for “State school board wants teacher evals based on student performance”

  1. Frank S says:

    Here we go again. The NEA and NFT teachers union will never stand for this. Why is it that the US spends more money on education than any other country in the WORLD? Why is it that our students only rank 9th in science and 10th in math in the world? The US has the lowest graduation rate of any of the developed countries. And what do the teachers say…..we are underpaid. I say BS. This is typical a typical union job where nobody wants to be accountable. Why is it that students in private schools graduate at a rate of 96% vs 73% for public schools?
    Don’t go telling me that it’s garbage in garbage out when it comes to students. It’s time to privatize our school system, issue vouchers so I get some benefit for the terrible amount of money I get taxed for education even though I don’t have school kids, fire all the teachers and hire them back on merit system without a union backing them. If you can’t get the children to learn, oh well, Walmarts hiring.

    • what the says:

      Most of the funding in public schools goes to overpaid administrators who sit on arse all day. Seriously. Teachers are not responsible for the degradation of the family unit, the cr#p we see on TV dumbing down the population, and most importantly the ‘no child left behind’ BS that cost the nation a fortune, much of which went to Bush’s brother to create the testing. If your children are getting dumber, look within, look at the government…but stop blaming the victims of Bush’s ‘no child left behind’ madness.

      How is it possible Bush just created this program to fix the schools, schools are doing poorly and now the teachers get the blame?

      Why didn’t Bush’s program work? Why not blame him?

      And private schools are the answer? Paying private land owners rent does not save money unless you hire Bill Gates Teach For America ‘Teachers’ who only have 6 weeks training and use an ear piece like coaches use in the NFL to coach the new teachers. This is exactly what they are doing now, I am not making it up. Google Teach for America.

      What kind of education do you think you will get when corporations get involved, skimming off rent, CEO salaries and consulting fees instead of paying teachers? You will get new CEO’s scamming all the education money instead of public administrators sitting on arse taking all the money, but either way the higher ups will be taking all the $$ and teachers and students will still get the shaft.

      • what the says:

        An example from a charter school in Florida….

        In October we learned about a failed charter school in Orlando which paid their principal $824,000 while only allowing $366,000 on teacher salaries and instruction in the 2010-2011 school year.

        The principal in question not only received a $519,000 severance check, but she took home her $305,000 annual salary for a grand total of $824,000 during the 2010-2011 school year. The Orlando Sentinel also reported last week the school only spent $366,000 on teacher salaries and instruction during that school year. Nothing can justify that imbalance, especially for the leader of a charter that failed.

        ..”Last week the Miami Herald reported that Charter Schools USA handed out in excess of $205,000 in contributions to political organizations and candidates for this election, three times the amount the Fort Lauderdale-based company spent two years ago.

      • franks says:

        I was sitting watching the football game yesterday and they had a commercial on televison that said the US was 25th in the world in math scores and we should be spending more on teachers. I about choked on my coffee. Here we are 17 trillion dollars in debt with a failing school system and the greeding heathing teachers want more money. I wish Michigan would show Alaska on how to become a “Right to Work” state so we can ditch these unions that are destroying this country.

        • race to the bottom says:

          What they are doing to fix the school system, by taking public school money for private profit…is not going to help.

          Bush screwed up the educational system, so they can ‘fix’ it to their liking.

          “Tim King and Norm Donohoe, who ran a chain of taxpayer-funded charter schools across small-town Oregon from their headquarters in Clackamas, scammed the state out of $17 million and must repay that plus $2.7 million more, the state said in a court filing this week.

          The legal claim, brought Thursday by the Oregon Department of Justice in Marion County Circuit Court, accuses the pair of racketeering, money laundering and other fraud from 2007 to 2010.

          King and Donohoe, who were the director and president, respectively, of a nonprofit they named EdChoices, submitted false, incomplete and misleading records about how many students were enrolled in the schools and how they were spending the state’s money, state prosecutors say in the complaint.”

          Harmony Science Academy, TX, will receive almost 30 million dollars in a ‘race to the top’ competition….

          Largest charter network in U.S.: Schools tied to Turkey

          The largest charter school network in the United States is operated by people in and associated with the Gulen Movement (GM), a secretive and controversial Turkish religious sect. With 135 schools enrolling more than 45,000 students, this network is substantially larger than KIPP, the well-known charter management organization with only 109 schools. A lack of awareness about this situation persists despite it being addressed in a national paper and in articles about Gulen charter schools in Utah (also here), Arizona, (also here), Illinois, Tennessee, Pennsylvania (also here), Indiana, Oklahoma (and here), Texas (also here), Arkansas, Louisiana (also here), New Jersey, Georgia, and North Carolina. It was also reported that the FBI and the Departments of Labor and Education are investigating practices at these schools.

          …”The Gulen Movement originated in Turkey in the late 1960s and has become increasingly powerful. Its members are followers of Fethullah Gulen (b. 1941) a self-exiled Turkish preacher who has been living on a secluded compound in rural Pennsylvania since 1998. Members call themselves hizmet, meaning “volunteer services” movement. The GM conducts four primary activities around the world: a media empire, business organizations, an enormous number of Turkish culture-promoting and interfaith dialog organizations, and a network of schools in over 100 countries, a large portion of which are U.S. charter schools.

          After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the GM began to establish schools outside of Turkey, first in the newly established republics of Central Asia and then beyond. One expert noted that the “…worldwide extent of Fethullah Gulen’s educational network testifies to the internationalist, even imperialist, nature of the movement.” Last year an analyst viewed the raison d’être for the schools “spreading across the globe” in this way: “Students will learn how to speak Turkish, the national anthem, how to be the ‘right kind of Muslim’, etc. In essence, it buys (the GM) loyalty.”

          We really need to start paying attention here, and that does NOT mean listening to Glenn Beck/limbaugh or NPR (national propaganda radio)…they are looting our nation, lying about everything while we amuse ourselves to death.

  2. Sharon Thompson says:

    Three years ago I had a student tell me she thought I cared more about her grade than she did. I replied the trend in education was to tie my paycheck to how well she did in school. She then told me that was a dumb idea because I couldn’t make her learn if she didn’t want to. I couldn’t argue with that. Believe me, I always tried to make my science classes interesting and relevant. If a high priority is not put on education in the home it can translate into poor performance in school by the child. It is not true in all cases. Just as a good work ethic shown by parents may not be passed on to the child. I am fortunate both my children graduated from college in four years. My son is currently being paid by Oregon State to work on a PhD in Physics. Private schools may choose to not admit special needs children. These people deserve an education too. However the cost is greater than for the general population. As a civilized society we all work together to improve the community. I was paid fairly for my 60 to 70 hours of work during the school year. I am now looking for a job where I only have to put in 40 hours a week. Although I wanted something a bit more challenging than being a greeter at Walmart. By the way, the young lady I mentioned earlier ended up turning her attitude around – thanks to another caring teacher. She recently graduated from Homer High.

    • what the says:

      Thank you for your service to our children!

      I don’t know how or why teachers became enemy number one in America. I do know that under Fascism, there is distain for intellectuals for obvious reasons. Intellectuals are the people that might expose lies and corruption and get in the way of the Fascist’s efforts.

      For instance, Teachers who might inform students of our history, of the protections of our Constitution are a threat, like for instance, telling us of our freedom from illegal spying.

      Our entire Congress, both Dems and Republicans just passed Bush’s illegal FISA spying act again. Our Constitution protects us from government spying, so the idea they passed a law that allows spying, proves they just violated the law of our land and can be removed from office by public pressure.

      Congress takes an oath to protect and preserve our Constitution. The only way that spying can be made legal is by amendment to the Constitution. They passed a ‘law’ that violates our Constitution and every Congress member that voted for this can be thrown out of office. If people knew this, tar and feathers would be selling like hot cakes. This is why our government is slowly dismantling the educational system.

      Now they have set up an educational system where the students can slack off as much as they want, then blame the teacher. Doesn’t this set up a system where the kids can now blackmail the teacher and make them lose their jobs due to the student’s lack of doing their own work? How is that the teacher’s fault if the kid doesn’t pay attention or turn in their homework? Shouldn’t the parent be fired? How about Saturday School for kids who don’t do their work? Not getting how it is the teacher’s fault, or how any thinking human being can blame teachers for the current state of education or the general accepted idiocy of the nation.

Comments are closed

Like us on Facebook