Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Teacher Evaluation Bill - Yay or Nay?

After Inslee caved to Duncan's demand that Washington State law reflect a "must" use test scores for teacher evaluation, rather than "can" as it currently does, the Legislature is moving a bill around.

I'm going on the record - I don't have a problem with using test scores for teacher evaluation (even though there is virtually no proof they really show anything about how well a teacher teaches) but I know there is no way that their use will be reasonable.  The powers that be want them at 50% or more and that is unacceptable to me. 

I also note that hey! guess what's embedded in the House bill - that the use of "student input may also be used."  Well now, that's interesting.  SPS is "piloting" a student survey that is being pushed by Teachers United and student input just happens to show up in the bill.  Go figure.

I urge you to weigh in on this issue to your legislator (see bill numbers below).

Here's what the WEA says:

"Even though the state Senate already killed a teacher evaluation bill by an overwhelming vote, Republican Sen. Andy Hill introduced yet another evaluation bill Monday – with no advance notice.

Hill, chairman of the Senate budget committee, also gave the bill a hearing in his committee Monday afternoon. And over the weekend, legislators introduced a similar bill in the House (House Bill 2800).
Hill’s Senate bill is even worse than earlier proposals, including the one the Senate defeated. His bill, Senate Bill 5880, would require the use of state tests in teacher evaluations beginning next school year, and would remain in effect regardless of whether Washington’s No Child Left Behind waiver is extended.

Teachers oppose mandating the use of state test scores in teacher evaluations and are urging legislators to vote no on SB 5880 and HB 2800.

Here’s an excerpt from WEA Lobbyist Lucinda Young’s testimony in opposition to SB 5880:

“Next fall Washington administers a brand new state test. Aside from the fact that no one has seen the test, and we don’t know if it will be valid and reliable and have no cultural bias, it cannot measure student growth in the same year that it’s administered and may not measure absolute student growth at all.

“There is no substantiated research that links standardized state tests with teacher quality. We shouldn’t pretend that it does. Therefore it cannot be used as a valid approach to measure teacher effectiveness. It seems illogical to use a brand new test built on standards that not all school districts have fully introduced to determine whether or not a teacher is improving his/her practice.

“Additionally, this test is offered once a year, is summative not diagnostic, and scores are returned in the late summer. Long after students have left and moved to their next classroom. This bill mandates the use of a test that has not and will never have growth data. Educators understand what that means and remain adamantly opposed.”

I will point out that this is EXACTLY what Diane Ravitch had to say at the NPE conference.  How is a test taken in one part of the year with one teacher going to help another teacher?  Unless you have a school-wide collaboration where teachers sit down with each other and walk thru each test score so that the previous year's teacher talks about the student as he/she knows them to the new teacher, this is not useful in aiding successful teaching.

Use of these scores also encourages the kind of public mania to see these scores that backfired so terribly in both NYC and LA.   Again, that's wrong.


Emily A Ehrlich said...
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Anonymous said...

This bill is bad news all around. If this goes through, you can be assured of additonal test prep and nonstop teaching to the test. It will become a race to cover as much content as possible in the hopes familiarity will allow more kids to guess and pass. The horror stories from other states (FL, NY, CA - remember the teacher who committed suicide after the LA Times posted teacher ratings and he was rated less than effective?) will become Washington's reality.

Accountability via test scores is based on ideology and a whole lot of assumptions, not research.
Assumption 1) the test is a valid and reliable judge of student knowledge. False.
Assumption 2) test scores are the primary result of good (or bad) teaching. False.
Assumption 3) teachers are the biggest influence on a child's education. False.
Assumption 4) tests are being scored by highly trained individuals and/or teachers, thus the scores are reliable. False!
(This delightful article helps clarify that:

And the right-wing and neoliberal ideology that goes along with these assumptions: teachers are inherently lazy and we have to make sure they are doing their job by holding them accountable with a big bludgeon.

For teachers who teach in non-tested subject areas, they will undoubtedly get the added bonus of being evaluated on students they never even teach. How's that for fair? If you teach high achieving kids, you could be rated as the worst teacher because your kids were already high to start with.

For some additional research on the subject try Audrey Amrein-Beardsley's writings on her blog

A good list of problems from Fair Test http://www.fairtest.org/why-teacher-evaluation-shouldn’t-rest-student-test

And read the horror stories out of other states
FL : http://staugustine.com/news/local-news/2014-02-24/teacher-grading-scores-released#.UxaKpsu9KK0


NY http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/02/new-york-city-teacher-rat_n_1316755.html


CA http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/10/education/10teacher.html?_r=0


Mark Ahlness said...

Two things -
First, big props to CT for explaining what most who understand teaching consider obvious. Your links are wonderful. Thank you!
Second, Melissa I am shocked that you would even consider 1% of a teacher evaluation based on student test scores to be ok. Bad science is bad science, sheesh.

Anonymous said...

You are welcome, Mark. On the surface, this sounds like a reasonable idea to many people, including some teachers who don't get the nuances or who teach in high-income/high-test score schools/districts. But the devil is in the details, as they say....
And once WA starts down this slippery slope, who knows if we'll ever get back up.

Plus there is no valid, peer-reviewed research to back any of it up. It's all just ideology and theory, with the latter mostly done by economists.