Under the state’s prior teacher evaluation system, less than 1 percent of teachers were rated as unsatisfactory. So, the state used some of its Race to the Top millions to create and pilot a new evaluation system that was purportedly more comprehensive and more honest in its assessment of how effective teachers were in their classrooms.
While the old evaluation system rated teachers as satisfactory/unsatisfactory and didn’t judge them by students’ academic progress, the system being piloted contains four different ratings: exemplary, proficient, developing/needs improvement and unsatisfactory.
The AJC has a good story today about the initial findings of the pilot, which the newspaper obtained through an Open Records request.
Even under this new system, less than 1 percent of Georgia teachers were classified as ineffective and one in five earned the top rating of exemplary.
The story notes that identifying and removing bad teachers has taken on increasing importance, with research showing that three years under bad teachers can negatively change a student’s academic trajectory.
Teachers in DeKalb, Gwinnett, Cherokee, Clayton, Henry and 21 other school districts participated in the pilot from last January to May and resulted in 0.32 percent of teachers being classified as ineffective, 5.95 percent as developing/needs improvement, 74.4 percent as proficient and 19.3 percent as exemplary, according to a state Department of Education report obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution under the Georgia Open Records Act.
Sandi Jacobs, vice president of the National Council for Teacher Quality in Washington, told the AJC that she was most surprised that the pilot results showed so few teachers in need of improvement. “If we only had 6 percent who were anything less than perfection, student achievement would probably be off the charts,” Jacobs said.
One of the main impediments to comprehensive teacher evaluations in the past has been a lack of adequate observation. Principals did not have time to go into classrooms to watch teachers in action.
That remains a problem with a new evaluation systems being piloted through Georgia’s Race to the Top grant, according to many teachers and principals on this blog.
If you were part of the pilot, please tell us about your experiences.
The state’s new teacher evaluation system needs some work. That’s the lesson Georgia education leaders are drawing from a pilot study that unexpectedly showed only a tiny fraction of the state’s teachers are ineffective.
A report from the state Department of Education found ratings of about 5,800 teachers in last year’s pilot study “skewed to the positive,” with less than 1 percent of teachers classified as ineffective and one in five getting the top rating of exemplary.
State officials say they expect more realistic outcomes as teachers and principals are better trained and have more time to adapt to the new evaluation system, which is to roll out statewide in the 2014-2015 school year.
Senate Education Committee Chairman Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody, said the preliminary results — particularly the finding that less than 1 percent of teachers are unsatisfactory — raise serious questions.
“Statistically, this flies in the face of our academic achievement levels. These numbers just doesn’t jibe with reality,” Millar said. “If the Georgia evaluation system is going to be based on these type of statistics, I wouldn’t see us going forward with it because, just statistically, it can’t be valid.”
A major component of teachers’ evaluations — the measure of students’ progress — is not included. State officials said that’s still being analyzed and will be reported later.
The report acknowledges the pilot results did not meet state officials’ expectations and points to the need for more training. James Stronge, a nationally known education consultant who was hired to help develop the system, said he doubts that only about 6 percent of teachers need improvement.
“We’re not aiming to get people,” Stronge said. “But in an honest evaluation, that’s likely too low for the percentage of teachers needing assistance to improve their performance.”
Avis King, the state’s deputy school superintendent for school improvement, said the report on the pilot was “very honest, and that’s what we wanted it to be.” Martha Ann Todd, associate state superintendent for teacher and leader effectiveness, said she expects more realistic results as educators receive more training and become more accustomed to the new process. “I think it’s going to be a culture shift until we get a true measure,” Todd said.
Ten percent of teachers scoring at the extremes of exemplary and unsatisfactory likely would be more accurate, Todd and King said.
Initially, only the 26 local school districts that partnered with the state on its successful bid for a $400 million federal Race to the Top grant in 2010 were obligated to use the new teacher evaluation system.
But as a condition of its waiver from requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law, Georgia has since had to commit to using the new evaluation system in all 180 local school districts effective with the 2014-2015 school year. An expanded pilot program is taking place this year, involving about 50,000 teachers in 50 school districts.
–from Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog