Historic vote by teachers union: Student performance should be factor in teacher reviews

The National Education Association, the largest teachers union in the country, adopted a new policy Monday that for the first time calls for student learning/performance to be part of teacher evaluations.

The policy states: Such indicators must be authentic, reflect that there are multiple factors that impact a student’s learning beyond a teacher’s control, and may include the following indicators or others chosen by a local or state affiliate: student learning objectives developed jointly by the teacher and principal/evaluator; teacher-created assessments; district or school assessments; student work (papers, portfolios, projects, presentations); teacher defined objectives for individual student growth; and high quality standardized tests that provide valid, reliable, timely and meaningful information regarding student learning and growth. Unless such tests are shown to be scientifically valid and reliable for the purpose of measuring both student learning and a teacher’s performance, such tests may not be used to support any employment action against a teacher and may be used only to provide non-evaluative formative feedback.

In a statement, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel said, “NEA members have stated loud and clear that they will no longer allow the voice of educators to be silenced and marginalized by people who don’t have a clue what teaching is. This policy statement puts NEA on the record in calling for a comprehensive overhaul of both teacher evaluation and accountability systems and it affords the association’s members the opportunity to take responsibility for ensuring the development, implementation, and enforcement of these high quality systems.”

According to the New York Times story about the NEA shift in policy:

In passing the new policy at its assembly here, the 3.2 million-member union, the National Education Association, hopes to take a leadership role in the growing national movement to hold teachers accountable for what students learn — an effort from which it has so far conspicuously stood apart.

But blunting the policy’s potential impact, the union also made clear that it continued to oppose the use of existing standardized test scores to judge teachers, a core part of the federally backed teacher evaluation overhauls already under way in at least 15 states.

The policy calls for teacher practice, teacher collaboration within schools and student learning to be used in teacher evaluations. But for tests, only those shown to be “developmentally appropriate, scientifically valid and reliable for the purpose of measuring both student learning and a teacher’s performance” should be used, the policy states, a bar that essentially excludes all existing tests, said Douglas N. Harris of the University of Wisconsin, a testing expert.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

67 comments Add your comment

Gandalf the Wise

July 5th, 2011
6:36 am

The NEA is one of the big things that’s wrong with this country! Why write drivel about them?

Eric

July 5th, 2011
7:33 am

I’m really surprised that standardized test scores of any kind would still be considered! It is an artificial measure, given so many kids have test anxiety, don’t eat breakfast, etc. What a ridiculous and mean-spirited tool to evaluate a teacher’s performance! I think teachers should be evaluated on the progress the student makes on his/her own during the semester. But comparisons and rankings against other students statewide is absurd. As a society, we’ve become obsessed/paranoid with student rankings.

God Bless the Teacher!

July 5th, 2011
8:24 am

The education profession should be given billions in economic stimulus and jobs creation grants because the testing industry will certainly create more jobs developing and trying to sell new tests to districts. Publishers will need to hire more people to keep up with the demand for new books written by “experts” who will have something important to say about the new way of evaluating teachers, and districts will need to hire more people to “professionally learn” their teachers on how the new evaluation will affect their futures and how to become better teachers who do their jobs correctly. Give me a Tums…

Darko

July 5th, 2011
8:25 am

Standardized test scores are about the only sensible way to measure performance, look what happens when student performance is left to educators: you end up with the APS cheating scandal and grade inflation. Sure, there will always be some students whose test scores are lower than expected and I’d bet some that also test better than expected.

Most other jobs reviews include some results oriented performance criteria, I see no reason educators reviews should not also.

Cindy Lutenbacher

July 5th, 2011
8:30 am

The NEA has stabbed us in the back by adding “standardized testing” into the mix for teacher evaluation. There are no “scientifically valid” standardized tests. The only “studies” that support such nonsense are ones created by the very people who stand to gain monetarily from such testing. But from the noises made in Washington DC and by such non-reformers as Bill Gates, Eli Broad, the Business Roundtable, ETS, and ilk, one would never know it.
No teacher worth a flip is opposed to authentic assessment of both students and teachers. But including standardized testing in the mix is disgraceful and serves only to further debase public education.
Shame on you, NEA.

Paddy O

July 5th, 2011
8:41 am

Hard to believe this is the first time they supported this. I guess to remain relevent, they decided trying to gouge the taxpayer just was not going to work this year.

Former Middle School Teacher

July 5th, 2011
8:42 am

@Darko: What other job reviews are dependent on the actions of children?

What a joke

July 5th, 2011
8:43 am

How can you base teacher performance on test scores? Does this mean in turn that the teachers get to pick their students? Who would want to teach in districts like APS, where obviously the students are not intelligent enough to meet the standards (based on CRCT scores)? A better idea would be to hold parents accountable if their child wastes tax payer dollars.

Paddy O

July 5th, 2011
8:44 am

To gauge national knowledge, it should not be too hard to test all 2nd graders (or any other grade) on a single test. Those who excel are relaying nationally recognized, age/grade appropriate information. Those that fail would appear not to be doing so. However, if the same state has an excellent graduation rate (above 85%) and scores in the top 50% on the SAT, then those national test scores would not be so important. For states with BAD grad rates, and BAD SAT scores – it should compel an examination of their curriculum.

Paddy O

July 5th, 2011
8:46 am

former middle: What other job pays far in excess of median community income, provides copious amount of time off, and yet the recipients of those jobs still gripe/whine about working conditions?

Paddy O

July 5th, 2011
8:47 am

GA pays for high quality (particularly when the cost of living is factored in), but the results are mediocre at best. A typical cost/benefit analysis would indicate they are way overpaying for the results they are receiving.

Darko

July 5th, 2011
8:55 am

Former Middle School Teacher – “What other job reviews are dependent on the actions of children?”

Sorry, but in many jobs, your performance review may be based in part on the actions or inactions of others, be they children or adults. Part of teaching is being able to interact with and motivate children. Sounds like that may have been lacking and it IS a performance issue that needs considered in a realistic evaluation.

Kira Willis

July 5th, 2011
8:55 am

I’m hoping that this is a growth model based on test scores~growth from point A to point B.
Test scores do have a place in performance evaluations, as long as we discuss them in a growth model forum and with the understanding that not every year is going to be a banner year. It should be a longitudinal research study. If Teacher X is consistently having no growth, then Teacher X is ineffective.
How about simply removing Teacher X from his or her job instead of pouring money into what we are seeing to be a perfect storm for cheating?

What a joke

July 5th, 2011
8:57 am

@Paddy O, @Darko…If you want to base teacher pay on performance and treat it like a corporate position, then can the teachers in turn fire poor performing students? Do I have to break it out…”You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink!”

What a joke

July 5th, 2011
8:59 am

The fact remains, although we are all born equal, we are not born of equal intelligence.

Cobb CountyResident

July 5th, 2011
9:02 am

I’m just thankful I don’t live in Atlanta. The kids are not the brightest and it’s mostly the parents to blame, not the teachers. Hopefully they don’t start moving into my school district.

Struggling Teacher

July 5th, 2011
9:09 am

I wish those who made this decision could see the how large the number of students who choose to “Christmas Tree” standardized tests. My job should depend on the immature mind of a teenager? Good grief! The inmates are now totally in control of the asylum!

A Conservative Voice

July 5th, 2011
9:14 am

Unions – Get rid of all of them…..why do you want to pay someone else to bargain or defend your position for you; can’t you do it yourself?

The National Education Association, the largest teachers union in the country, adopted a new policy Monday that for the first time calls for student learning/performance to be part of teacher evaluations.

This policy will cause more and more of our bright young people to make another career choice and will lead to a “dumbing down” of the profession.

Darko

July 5th, 2011
9:21 am

If not standardized tests (it’s easy to tell who the educators on the blog are) – what OBJECTIVE tool could be used to evaluate teachers? Grades, graduation rates, percentage of students passing, even student evaluations have all been manipulated by those being reviewed. So name your performance measure?

I agree with Kira above, a growth based model would account for differences in test base lines due to factors outside the teacher’s control. But if teacher X consistently can’t motivate at least a portion of the students to improve their performance, either that teacher and that school are a poor match or teacher x should be in a different position.

What a joke

July 5th, 2011
9:25 am

@Darko…What is the job of school administration? If we are to base teacher performance on student performance, does this mean we eliminate many of the high paying administrative positions?

J. Wentworth Astor VI

July 5th, 2011
9:27 am

Thank God for private schools!

Cindy Lutenbacher

July 5th, 2011
9:41 am

Okay, just to respond to a few misunderstandings here.

Sorry I don’t have the exact reference in my 57-year-old brain, but I recently read a study that showed that elementary teachers spend an average of over 1400 hours a year in the classroom and approximately 2000 hours working on their jobs (including classroom hours, grading, prep, etc.). These hours are conducted in a ten-month school year, so that would mean about 200 hours a month, or an average of 50-hour work weeks (and many teachers do put in hours over the December and spring breaks). I’ve no doubt that the more committed teachers spend many more than 2000 hours. Teaching is not an easy job, and every teacher I know more than deserves the two summer months to recuperate and regenerate. Public school teachers are not overpaid. As with any profession, there are those who manage to stay who are doing a lousy job and do just “phone in” their work. I speak as a public school parent whose daughters attend both high poverty and lower middle class public schools in DeKalb County.

Secondly, APS students are just as bright as students anywhere. I’ve volunteered in APS schools since 1995. The problems are poverty and the pathetic reliance on standardized testing, which not only is designed to favor the wealthy, but is also absurdly unreliable.

Thirdly, and if I’m wrong, please, someone correct me, but I don’t think the NEA is reliant upon taxpayer dollars any more than my local Kroger.

Mikey D

July 5th, 2011
9:45 am

@Darko… So, you’d be alright with basing someone’s employment on a student evaluation measure that can not be proven to be “developmentally appropriate, scientificall valid, and reliable”? If you think that CRCT or other standardized tests are a good way to determine what and how much a child knows, then you’ve clearly never seen one of these tests. District-created formative assessments given over the course of an entire year are a MUCH better evaluative measure, because they show a trend over time, rather than a simple snapshot of a student’s mindset on one day out of 180, taking no account of any other factors that may affect that child on that day. Folks like you and PaddyO should volunteer at your local school to be a test proctor next year during CRCT. If you do that, I will guarantee that your attitude about these tests being adequate will change. Guarantee.

Michael Moore

July 5th, 2011
9:55 am

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave the AFT and NEA 6.3 million over the last two years for two purposes: The first was for the union endorsement of the common core standards and next for the approval of student test scores for evaluating teacher effectiveness. You get what you pay for.
http://savannahnow.com/opinion/2011-07-01/moore-blame-teachers-or-reform-schools#.ThMWzeAXsbI

Cindy Lutenbacher

July 5th, 2011
9:57 am

Amen, Michael Moore.

NEA Reality

July 5th, 2011
10:16 am

The NEA is trying to deal with the political reality of standardized testing and
the drive for accountability,but would the leadership of the NEA accept the
same standard of accountability in their performance for helping to save
teacher jobs and lobbying to make changes advantageous to teachers.I
would imagine that the NEA would bring up all the outside factors that
had an impact on how effective they were in representing teachers and
would oppose the same type of unified standard to judge their effectiveness.
(If the unified standard of effectiveness for the NEA was the number of teacher
jobs lost across the country compared to standardized tests for teachers,
would the leadership of the NEA accept that standard to be evaluated by its
membership?).

Paddy O

July 5th, 2011
10:18 am

Cindy: Lost most public employee unions, NEA is rather parasitic – especially in non-right to work states. The teachers in those non-right to work states are mandated to join the union, and the dues are relatively high. In turn, the union generally provides copious amounts of campaign donations – overwhelmingly to Democratic candidates. So, I would assert that NEA is substantially funded by taxpayers.

Paddy O

July 5th, 2011
10:21 am

Regarding student tests: A portion of the evaluation would factor in student capabilities, which most likely would require an actuary to determine. With all the individual lesson planning mandated these days, school systems MUST know who is average & above performing students, and those with known learning problems. Those with known learning problems would be factored into the evaluation system. However, if a specific teacher was consistently (say 3 years consecutive) failing to have their average + students failing a CRCT test (say under 85%), then it is highly likely that individual is NOT a good teacher.

Paddy O

July 5th, 2011
10:23 am

If the CRCT is NOT a high quality evaluation of whether students were taught & learned the curriculum, what are teachers doing about that?

4 more years!

July 5th, 2011
10:28 am

With the NEA’s endorsement and solid support from all the other big unions, Obama should easily win reelection in 2012!!!! Hopefully, he can get a lot more government money to schools—which is reason school systems are so bad—too little money.

SoGAVet

July 5th, 2011
10:47 am

Not so fast, the reports says the membership “continued to oppose the use of existing standardized test scores to judge teachers” and wants tests that are “developmentally appropriate, scientifically valid and reliable”

Those don’t exist.

What we need for sure is transparency on the tests we use. Teachers, by rule, are forbidden to see or discuss the tests Georgia uses – even AFTER the fact. How does one get better at what one is doing if you can’t gauge or evaluate the instrument of one’s torture?

I say let teachers see the tests after they are given; let them challenge the validity of the questions; let them openly and professionally discuss what they’ve seen to figure out how to better teach the students to prepare them.

I’ve heard GA’s DOE apologists say “teachers review” – they don’t, and standards are tested – yet no teacher gets to look at or discuss, so I guess we have to take their word for it. Oh, and NO ONE knows how the DOE twists the numbers from year-to-year, so we don’t know if one year’s standard score is statistically valid when compared to the next.

Interesting

July 5th, 2011
10:48 am

I have no problem with holding teachers accountable for student performance on standardized tests but don’t hold them accountable for students who are constantly suspended out of school, in jail or YDC, have terminal illnesses that force the child to miss a lot of school due to medical treatments, go to Mexico with their families for a month and a half for Christmas vacation or are generally skipping school to work, hang out with friends, get high or have sex. Teachers cannot teach students who are not present in class due to suspensions, incarcerations, severe illnesses/hospitalizations or their family takes them on LONG trips and they miss huge amounts of new material. If you hold teachers accountable for the majority of the students who come to school and attend class on a regular basis (with a few absences here and there), then a growth model comparison for teacher evaluations is fair.

Cliff Claven

July 5th, 2011
10:49 am

I just love all the “real world” people who think it’s that simple to judge a students learning and using student performances as a evaluation tool.

Cliff Claven

July 5th, 2011
10:52 am

“as an” duh!

SoGAVet

July 5th, 2011
10:54 am

@Interesting – You hit the nail on the head!

thomas

July 5th, 2011
10:55 am

@ Darko,

Didn’t what happen in the APS happen because there is a state-mandated standardized test? Which part are you saying “left to teachers”? You just want to bash teachers, but I think you should be able to do it more intelligently. On the other hand, showing the results of education you received from your teachers may be a way to argue how poor a job they did with you…

@ Paddy O & @ Gandalf,

Extremism isn’t good in any case, including labor union. However, unions have (ought to have) roles. See http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-hiltzik-20110703,0,1163343.column

thomas

July 5th, 2011
10:57 am

@ union bashers,

You need to realize the roles (positive) labor unions played in making the United States so strong. Contrary to your belief, it wasn’t just “free market” competition that made the US “great.”

ABC

July 5th, 2011
10:58 am

Is it not the job of the school administrator to evaluate the teacher performance? If we are so concerned about teacher performance; base their evaluations on standardized test scores. In my career I have taught in three schools: all with different demographics. One school was made up of students in a lower economic demographic; one very middle class, and one very affluent district.
One thing that was consistent in every school –great teachers! Sure, we have one or two here or there, that are lazy! But one bad apple does not the bunch spoil in this case. I would also say that the poor teachers I have observed are usually very lenient when it comes to grading. They usually are under the radar, and don’t receive much attention from parents and students. The parents who usually complain about poor teachers are frequently displeased with their student’s grade in the class. More times than not, the teacher is not so happy about the grade, either.
The second thing that was consistent in both schools: kids. Kids are kids, each of them having their own unique obstacles and experiences in the classroom. I want my students focused on learning – NOT assessment! I want to focus on providing instruction and facilitating learning – NOT spending my time collecting data for teacher accountability. The only evaluation students should be subjected to should only measure their mastery of the content area. The evaluations that measure that will not adequately measure the performance of the instructor. These test results would not be an objective evaluation at all. There are many other factors involved in student performance. Primarily: the STUDENT. All children can learn, but for some of them, let’s just say it doesn’t come so easy! I would hate to see great teachers leave transient and challenging schools to protect their own livelihood. My best friend has taught kindergarten in an urban setting for 15 years. She loves her kids, but not more than providing for her own family.
Research consistently shows that two things impact student achievement: removal of distractions from the learning environment, and a SMALLER student/teacher ratio. My advice is to take all of the federal funding for No Child Left Behind, overhauled teacher evaluations, pay for performance bonuses, and HIRE MORE CLASSROOM TEACHERS! Create new programs in math, science, technology, athletics, and the arts-not new expensive ventures in teacher evaluation.

ABC

July 5th, 2011
11:16 am

Regarding our pay: I dont know what you think we make, but it’s online for each school district. I am thankful for the compensation I have, but we are not over paid, and certainly not well paid when compared to other professions. Compare the salary of a teacher with a master’s degree to another professional with 20 plus years of experience.

God forbid, you have to support a family! You’d be hard pressed to to provide for a young family on a teacher’s salary in Metro Atlanta.

Most non-teacher educators (paraprofessionals/aides/substitutes) would fare better working behind a cash register. I actually knew a parapro who was laid off last year… unemployment was a RAISE.

We are not paid for our summers, or our holidays, or our spring break… our salary is per day, per hour. Most jobs you get your pay check as you earn it. Ours is paid out over 12 one month installments. We get it in the end…. but would you like to only recieve 5/6 of your paycheck each month?

Even most single teachers I know are paycheck to paycheck, and if they arent in school accumulating student loans, they are waiting tables at their summer jobs to pay them off.

And we are

Darko

July 5th, 2011
11:29 am

thomas – exactly when did I “bash” teachers? I’ll assume you are one since you reacted that way. Simply, there are people teaching who should not be, and there are some that are very good at their jobs. The same can be said for any industry. The APS scandal shows us what happens when teachers (or even worse, administrators) are in charge of overseeing the results of their own evaluations – cheating. Same as grade inflation or passing kids who should be failed to the next grade.

Again, if not a (properly administered) standardized test, what OBJECTIVE measure is there of performance?

EduKtr

July 5th, 2011
11:39 am

Anyone who has viewed the enlightening film “Waiting for Superman” knows enough not to take this news at face value.

The teachers’ union, after all, represents TEACHERS not students or their parents. And the fact that union bosses have held off this long on signing on to what seems so self-evidently reasonable — reinforces my doubts.

And what’s this about the NEA putting their members’ money behind President Obama’s 2012 campaign before even a Republican challenger has been selected? How’s that going to fly with Georgia’s politically independent NEA/GAE membership?

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

July 5th, 2011
11:57 am

Nikole

July 5th, 2011
12:15 pm

Most people didn’t even read what was said. NEA does not support current standardized tests because they are not valid and they want other outside factors to be considered when assessing a teacher’s effectiveness. I see nothing wrong with this.

@ Darko—Your assumption was that if students fail tests, it is the teacher’s fault. (Bashing teachers) If you spent half an hour in the elementary school where I work, you would leave with a different opinion.

Cliff Claven

July 5th, 2011
12:17 pm

Darko, did you notice the 38 principals who were also found to have cheated? Let’s read the whole thing before we just assume that each teacher was cheating by themselves.

irisheyes

July 5th, 2011
12:23 pm

“If the CRCT is NOT a high quality evaluation of whether students were taught & learned the curriculum, what are teachers doing about that?”

@PaddyO, you do realize that the CRCT is written completely by McGraw/Hill, and GA teachers have NO imput into the development of the test? We aren’t allowed to see the test, and we aren’t allowed to discuss a single thing about the test with ANYONE, or we could face sanctions. Hopefully, you remember all of the teachers on this blog who have complained about the validity and reliability of the CRCT. Unfortunately, we can complain all we want, but then we’re just complaining and overpaid and underworked, and still no one listens. What, exactly, would you suggest teachers do to improve the validity of the CRCT?

Baily

July 5th, 2011
12:25 pm

“No longer allow the voice of educators to be silenced and marginalized by people who don’t have a clue what teaching is.” Good grief. We may not know what “teaching” is but any fool knows what taught is. If the kids can’t master basic reading, writing and arithmetic, they haven’t been taught well.

The fact that too many kids can’t do well on these basic standardized tests tells us that these so-called experts are the ones who don’t understand what teaching is.

This is similar to the military. The civilians/electorate defines the mission. The military defines the strategy and executes to achieve that mission. If teachers can’t achieve the mission as we define it, they’ve failed.

MiltonMan

July 5th, 2011
12:28 pm

Not that is was unexpected but no mention of the NEA clowns & their endorsement for Obozo being re-elected in 2012???

James

July 5th, 2011
12:29 pm

Only competition will improve education…not the NEA.

MiltonMan

July 5th, 2011
12:30 pm

Maybe teachers should clean up their own garbage before changng anything else. You know the part of having sex with their students, refusing to grade papers in red, cheating on test scores, etc., etc.

RGB

July 5th, 2011
12:36 pm

The NEA “will no longer allow the voice of educators to be silenced and marginalized by people who don’t have a clue what teaching is.” I guess this means they’re mad as hell and aren’t going to take it any more.

Taxpayers aren’t exactly thrilled with the results public schools deliver, so cast stones at your own peril. Perhaps parents should replace their “My student is a genius at XYZ School” bumper stickers with “Our Student’s Teachers/Principal Cheated at XYZ School.”

The NEA has zero credibility and the teachers who cling to this destructive organization should be ashamed of themselves.

Remember the quote made by a former NEA President: “When school children start paying union dues, that ’s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children.”

‘Nuff said.