Georgia teachers: Prefer to be judged on student work rather than on student test scores or surveys

A survey of Georgia teachers found more support for using student work to judge them than test scores. (AJC file photo)

A survey of Georgia teachers found more support for using student work to judge them than test scores. (AJC file photo)

The Professional Association of Georgia Educators queried its members regarding Georgia’s new teacher evaluation system and found more support for using student work to judge teachers than student test scores or surveys. More than 2,000 teachers responded to the PAGE survey.

Georgia is piloting a new teacher evaluation system that will include principal observations, test scores and student surveys. Race to the Top is funding the development of that new system.

Here is what PAGE found:

The participants covered a range of experience, with 42.5% having 6-15 years of classroom experience and another 38.3% having 16-30 years of experience.

Grade levels were well represented, with 27.7% from K-2, 30.2% from grades 3-5, 23.2% from grades 6-8 and 26.1% with assignments in grades 9-12

When it came to new evaluation system versus the former one, 72.5% of respondents found the former system to be effective or somewhat effective.

The new system, a part of the Race to the Top grant, received less support: 51.1% feel it is ineffective or somewhat ineffective while 48.5% believe it to be effective or somewhat effective.

There was not much support for student surveys with 76.8% of respondents feeling uncomfortable and non-trusting of such surveys or feeling at least somewhat so.

Parent surveys were much better received with 49.7% calling them useful or somewhat useful. A slight majority, 50.3% said they would not be useful.

Using student test scores for evaluation was not popular with 76.1% saying they would be uncomfortable or somewhat so if they were used.

However, a full 76.8% suggested their comfort with being evaluated using portfolios of student work.

Asked to define some of the elements of a perfect evaluation system, educators in the survey suggested portfolios of educator work (58.9%) and also use of portfolios of student work (58.2%).

Peer review (46.6%) was a third frequently noted element.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

76 comments Add your comment

indigo

January 22nd, 2013
10:51 am

There is still an achievment gap between white and black students.

Because of this, the social experiments are continuing to come at a fast and furious pace.

Being a teacher in this kind of climate is like living inside a whirlwind.

You never know what’s going to blow in next.

RCB

January 22nd, 2013
10:56 am

This method was used 15 yrs. ago in my Colorado school district. Some “portfolios” were 3 pages and some were 100. Thank goodness these portfolios were sent outside the school to be evaluated. We already knew which teachers would have great portfolios.

Metro Coach

January 22nd, 2013
10:56 am

Yeah, student surveys are going to be COMPLETELY accurate. Please, have you seen how students treat their teachers?

RCB

January 22nd, 2013
11:02 am

BTW, even hospitals use patient satisfaction surveys. The worst feedback comes from patients who are the most ill and have the least resources.

bill

January 22nd, 2013
11:06 am

Always here about the bad the teachers. Go to any high school and look at the students’ effort in the classroom. Sure their are some good students out there but not as many anymore. Poor Johnny if only had this teacher or that teacher. Changing the teacher does alway change the problem with our kids. Total nonsense.

living in an outdated ed system

January 22nd, 2013
11:21 am

This is not surprising. People do not feel comfortable with change. That is inherent with established organizations. It’s called “organizational inertia.” And of course they would prefer the status quo system, especially since it does not do a good job at flagging ineffective teachers.

bill

January 22nd, 2013
11:27 am

So who replaces an ineffective teacher another ineffective teacher. I’ve seen the same opening year after year in the same schools because the principal doesn’t understand what an effective teachers does. It’s all nonsense.

cris

January 22nd, 2013
11:33 am

@living – it seems that the new evaluations don’t either…see initial results for the new TKES….it’s doesn’t take a genius to figure out who is and isn’t doing their job – it just takes an administrator who will go through the appropriate steps to eliminate those who aren’t doing what they should be doing.

bill

January 22nd, 2013
11:37 am

Sure, some teachers are not great, but this bad teacher thing has become the great witch hunt. Are you a witch then lets burn your career away. It’s totally silly and not fair to educators who work hard to teach kids. Does any one out thier wanna get paid a teacher salary with no raises in years. Get off your high horse.

Jake

January 22nd, 2013
11:49 am

Student surveys will lead to bad teaching. In essence, teaching isn’t a popularity contest. The best teachers have strong management and high expectations and can deliver bad news to parents. If sureveys are used teachers will have to win students over with prizes and less decipline to be liked and not deliver bad news. Standardized testing is the only fair way to judge achievement. A portfolio does not show how much assistance a student had in making, writing, or solving. It doesn’t show skills without assistance. Plain and simple. It’s not a black white issue. It’s socio economic and parental. If you are poor and sit your kid in front of Freddy and Jason instead of PBS your child will naturally do worse. If your speech is has issues with subject verb agreement then so will your childs. What people fail to understand the the primary and most important teacher is the parent. A teacher has a student for 180 days of their entire life, if they attend every day. If the parent is poorly educated then the school can show growth but to have below level reader get to grade level is next to impossible with 25 kids in a class, restriction on materials and funds, and no assistance from administration.

Hey Teacher

January 22nd, 2013
11:53 am

@Bill — I agree completely. I don’t understand why there is so much emphasis on teacher evaluation — I’ve been in the classroom for more than 20 years — the ineffective teachers are generally related to someone in the central office and still around because no one will do the legwork to get rid of them. Those of us that are doing are doing our jobs are subjected to scrutiny on a level that I’ve never seen before — I keep wondering when my current administration will figure out that I AM doing my job and will leave me alone to do it. Meanwhile, I have so-called evaluators that wouldn’t know a good lesson if they fell over one telling me I need to change out my bulletin boards, re-arrange my classroom, do more flexible grouping (or insert educational buzzword of the month). One of my colleagues quipped the other day that she felt like an animal on the dissection table.

Me

January 22nd, 2013
11:59 am

Would much rather have my teachers focused on teaching my kids than producing some 100 page portfolio for some desk jockey. what a waste of time and effort.

living in an outdated ed system

January 22nd, 2013
12:00 pm

@Cris – I think they have to take a hard look at what the Gates Foundation did with their MET Report. It provides a “balanced” approach and it actually received a soft endorsement from Randi Weingarten. We just have to look at the costs of independent observations.

Why is it that every industry can evaluate their employees EXCEPT education? I am a major supporter of teachers, but we need to be able to measure their effectiveness. Pay the good ones better, and coach the bad ones towards becoming good, or out of the profession.

living in an outdated ed system

January 22nd, 2013
12:03 pm

in addition, let me also add that it is highly suspect to evaluate teachers on student’s “work,” especially if it does not lead to student achievement. What does that statement mean? What does a “portfolio of students work” mean?

I suggest that PAGE look at the Gates report and make an objective assessment of its merits or shortcomings.

bootney farnsworth

January 22nd, 2013
12:04 pm

I am so tired of this.

if the most vocal critics spend 1/3 the time actually trying to make a difference in their schools through being involved as they do bitching about us

we wouldn’t have this problem.

Teacher Reader

January 22nd, 2013
12:09 pm

@ Jake I agree. It’s the teachers that I hated at the time, because they demanded my best and made me work for my grades that I learned the most. I would have given these teachers poor scores, and they really weren’t deserved once I matured and realized what they taught me.

As a wife of a college professor, I see the teaching evaluations that my husband gets and these kids just want an easy grade with little work and thinking on their part. Engage them too much and you get a bad rating.

bill

January 22nd, 2013
12:11 pm

Lets be real. You get what you pay for. Honestly, the teachers are good for what we pay them. The best brightest are never going into teaching, because of the pay. Would you tell your children to be teachers? Unless you want them to struggle. Evaluation is a joke until you pay properly.

paulo977

January 22nd, 2013
12:16 pm

Hey Teacher..”One of my colleagues quipped the other day that she felt like an animal on the dissection table.”
_____________________________________

Well said !! Hang in though , kids need devoted teachers like you!!

d

January 22nd, 2013
12:20 pm

Like I said in the last post, let me use pre-test/post-test to show growth not US History to Economics End of Course Tests and replace student surveys with peer observations. I believe you will get better results.

Public educator

January 22nd, 2013
12:26 pm

I agree with many of the comments so far today. Students can recognize good teaching and often appreciate the teachers who challenged them AFTER time has passed. However, on any given day that you survey students, some students will be angry because the teacher assigned homework that caused them to miss their favorite TV show or the teacher gave a pop quiz and they had not completed the reading or the teacher had handed back essays that the students did not do well on. Nevermind that the homework was integral practice to help students master a concept or that the teacher hinted that a pop quiz could be coming or that the essays were returned with feedback and a rewrite opportunity…. As Jake said, student surveys would mostly be a popularity contest, and the slacker teacher who is more of a friend than an educator would often win.

Parent surveys are also suspect in my book. There are many parents who do not care about best practices and do not want their children challenged. They want their darlings to get high grades and have less stress (ie less homework, tests, and projects) so that the children can spend all their time outside of school playing sports or relaxing with TV or video games. Parents would be just as fickle as students; their responses would depend on how they felt about a particular teacher (or life in general) on a particular day.

Student test scores as criteria? Well, that depends on the test and whether it is valid and reliable. The state EOCT tests are pretty well constructed, but everyone knows they are curved so that failure rates won’t be too high. County benchmark tests are only as good as the person/people constructing them, and believe me, we’ve seen some abysmal benchmark tests in Gwinnett County over the past few years. Student test scores also depend on the students you are given. For a teacher who has gifted/honors students, a state test is fluff. For a teacher who has ESOL students or students with special needs, a state test is truly high stakes and passing might be an almost-unreachable goal.

Teacher observations are probably the best way to judge whether a teacher is doing his/her job. I’ve always welcomed anyone to come into my classroom at any time. However, observations do come with problems of subjectivity, lack of time, and lack of expertise. Principals are just like everyone else; they have their favorites and their buddies, who will certainly get higher ratings even if they are undeserved. The principals at my school spend most of their time dealing with discipline issues or going to meetings. You rarely see them just walking the halls or peeking in classrooms. Plus, none of them have any training in my subject area, which makes it difficult for them to understand the activities we are doing when they do stop by.

Beverly Fraud

January 22nd, 2013
12:51 pm

“This is not surprising. People do not feel comfortable with change. That is inherent with established organizations. It’s called “organizational inertia.” ”

@outdated let’s not be so quick to dismiss criticism under the guise of “people are resistant to change” After all, this is exactly what Beverly Hall said when she was asked to justify what she was doing.

I walk into my local bank. Suddenly, for the first time, I see three guys wearing ski masks. This is change. I am resistant to it. If not, I am stupid

And outdated, you do realize, with the Gates criteria, a teacher could actually get downgraded for redirecting a child to get back to work?

Yes outdated, a teacher could, with the Gates system, approach a student whose attention has wondered, (perhaps there was a tragedy at home, perhaps he forgot his meds, perhaps he is a child) redirect the student to get back on task, resulting a student refocusing his efforts, and actually get downgraded for it.

And you want to know why teachers are resistant to change?

Beverly Fraud

January 22nd, 2013
1:03 pm

Look at the picture accompanying this post. The boy on the left looks unfocused. One of the girls in the foreground has her head down, pencil on the desk. One of the girls in the background is focused on the teacher, while the other is not.

Clearly some serious off task behaviors that need to be addressed, correct? As completely ignorant as the preceding sentence is, evaluators can use “data” like that, claiming they “observed” it, and presto! the teacher who raised suspicions about (cheating, misuse of funds, etc.) has started the process of being “counseled out of the profession” based on “documentation”

And make no mistake, the above scenario happens with frightening regularity. And what does PAGE do to address this? Takes a survey.

Beautiful, Just beautiful.

beteachin

January 22nd, 2013
1:17 pm

@bill: With good teachers, society gets MUCH more than it pays for. And many of the best and brightest go into education DESPITE the pay. (Unfortunately, research shows that many with less-than-stellar intellect choose teaching as well, but that’s a different depressing discussion for a different day.)

Beverly Fraud

January 22nd, 2013
1:19 pm

The blog monster is feeding today is it?

Beverly Fraud

January 22nd, 2013
1:28 pm

Here is what PAGE found:

If we do a survey (instead of taking a real stand and pointing out how this instrument, like those before it, in ripe for opportunities of administrative retaliation) we can act as if though we actually “advocated” for teachers.

And amazingly teachers will still pay us, even in this political climate, to represent administrative interests!

Yes it makes as much sense as paying a fee to telemarketers to make sure they include your number on their phone lists, but hey if they are going to keep on doing it…

Ain’t America grand?

living in an outdated ed system

January 22nd, 2013
1:36 pm

@Beverly Hall – we can certainly debate the specifics, but the bottom line is that it is NOT surprising that the educators would not support the new evaluation system. It is still being refined, but it is sorely needed.

I would like to see a world where we teachers are compensated on a fair and balanced merit or performance based system. It the state where my mother taught (and retired) after 30 years in the “system,” I remember seeing a salary grid that tied a teacher’s pay to the degree they held as well as tenure. We need to fix this once and for all. I made no mention of Dr. Hall’s intimidating approach. It needs to be “balanced.” If we do not use some level of student achievement in the formula, then we are not aligning incentives. What is a successful product? It’s a student who learns.

Teacher, Too

January 22nd, 2013
1:57 pm

I am opposed to having children evaluate my skills as a teacher, for all the reasons already voiced on the blog. Children do not like the teachers whol hold them accountable and teach a rigorous curriculum. They want the fast and easy “A”- and unfortunately there are many teachers who don’t require much from their students, and those students always get the A or B. And the kids LOVE those teachers.

Now, I am one of those teachers the kids don’t like. I require the kids to actually earn their grades- and think… yes, they have to stretch their minds and use critical thinking. That does not go over well, especially when they are used to getting good grades without earning them . You know– everyone gets an “A” and a trophy.

Parents are the same– they want their children getting all “A”’s, even when they have not done the work to earn an “A”.

Most of my former students have emailed me from time to time, thanking me for being their teacher. They readily admit to not liking me at the time, but over time, they come to appreciate the skills they have– because of the not-so-popular teachers who made them work and earn their grades. Those students earned their accomplishment and can be proud of their work. No phony trophies here.

HS Public Teacher

January 22nd, 2013
2:02 pm

Adding student surveys to teacher evaluations is similar to the corporate world known as “360 degree evaluation.”

There is a major difference, however. For student surveys, the KIDS are answering questions. These are not adults. These are not fully matured brains, must less personalities. How in the world is it fair at all for KIDS to have input on a professional career?

Also, if teachers have the “360 degree evaluation”, then why don’t the school administration? I have never been given a survey about my Principal or Assistant Principal or even my Department Chair! And, why isn’t my input making an impact on THEIR career? What are THEY afraid of? At least teachers are adults!

Beverly Fraud

January 22nd, 2013
2:02 pm

@Beverly Hall – we can certainly debate the specifics…

Did you mean Beverly Fraud? (Because of course, any resemblance of Beverly Fraud to any educator, is strictly coincidental)

“we can certainly debate the specifics..”

But here’s the thing; we aren’t Not Bill Gates. Not PAGE. Not GAE. Certainly not the General Assembly. Even though we saw the devastating effects in Atlanta, of not giving teachers protection from administrative retaliation, nobody is addressing this as part of the discussion.

“I made no mention of Dr. Hall’s intimidating approach.”

Exactly. No one else is either. We are acting liking this is a once a millennium anomaly, and not treating it like it really is, a particularly damning example of an ongoing dynamic.

The closest we’ve come to it is the Gates study suggesting outside observers to counteract for bias. And of course that’s (the outside observer) the first thing that went by the wayside.

If we can’t talk about administrative retaliation, doesn’t the rest of this become an exercise in “Other than that how was the play Mrs. Lincoln?”

Beverly Fraud

January 22nd, 2013
2:08 pm

“I am opposed to having children evaluate my skills as a teacher, for all the reasons already voiced on the blog.”

@Teacher Too. Why? Just because a child can’t read and he’s given a survey that he can’t comprehend and asked to rate you, why would you think his judgement of your professional ability is any less valid?

sped teacher

January 22nd, 2013
2:27 pm

You cannot force a kid to learn. If they do not have consequences at home for bad grades/behavior why would the consequences at school scare/motivate them? You want to improve test scores or ayp or whatever?? Bring back tech diplomas and special ed diplomas. The world needs ditch diggers. The fact that every kid in school is on a college bound diploma is laughable and unrealistic. I have kids in my 10th grade class who haven’t passed a CRCT since they’ve been going to school. They read on a 3rd grade level and comprehend about the same. I’m supposed to teach them Romeo and Juliet??? I’m supposed to teach them how to write a 5 paragraph essay? Hell, their IEPs (legal document approved by the parent) say I can’t count off for spelling!!!!!!! Hell they try not to write notes down now. They take pictures of the notes on the board with their camrera phones and then look at it later.

sped teacher

January 22nd, 2013
2:31 pm

@Teacher Too. Why? Just because a child can’t read and he’s given a survey that he can’t comprehend and asked to rate you, why would you think his judgement of your professional ability is any less valid?

Uhhhhhh because of the reasons you just mentioned.

Yag Kosha

January 22nd, 2013
2:49 pm

The only way we’re going to make progress and regain the upper academic hand is when the EDUCATION SYSTEM changes and starts to foster and work WITH the skills and interests of today’s young people. These kids are potentially more intelligent than their parents will ever be but we still want them to learn the old material the old school way. At some point in time, that realization will sink in and real improvement can occur. Currently it’s like handing you or I a set of flint tools and asking us to learn how to carve a wheel.

Cue the cries of “if it worked when I was a kid, it’ll work now”. You kids get off my lawn!

bill

January 22nd, 2013
3:16 pm

In terms of sped teachers, they should get paid more. They take stuff from everyone. Principals,parents, and regular ed teachers whos don’t understand learning differences, The school leaders think they can get the same results the same as regular ed. Maybe if gifted with some ld but not often. I take my hat off to sped teachers. Once again no pay and no respect.

Sam

January 22nd, 2013
3:29 pm

Metro Coach, have you seen how some teachers treat their students?

bill

January 22nd, 2013
3:34 pm

Also, our we rating sped teachers on test scores. Gonna need to find a new set of sped teachers every year in every school. Does not take a genuis to see why education is messed up.

Inman Parker

January 22nd, 2013
3:46 pm

Standardized teat scores, for all their faults (and there are many) at least provide a common denominator or a baseline. Student portfolios, while interesting, say very little about what a child is actually learning. A 100% score on a teacher made test is great for the GPA, but the test may be invalid (too easy, poorly written, too hard, not representative of what has been taught, etc.) I don’t see us going away from standardized test scores anytime soon.

bill

January 22nd, 2013
3:54 pm

Standards scores work when you have all english speaking non disabled students. If you have walked into a classroom lately, you will see thats hard to find. But we can still live in this fanasty.

start the litigation

January 22nd, 2013
4:07 pm

This is not just an issue of change, but rather such a dramatic shift from student accoutability to total teacher accountability. It is the most unfair social experiment to date, with teachers being held accountable on one set test day with no controls over anything- no true science experiment would be counted with this type of set up.
In our system, it is nothing more than a witch hunt, a ” gotcha sucker” mindset, in which teachers are villified in order to justify more cost- cutting measures.
This race to the top is nothing more than an attempt to appease a culture which does not value education, but would rather have their kids entertained and amused and told lies when the reality is they are still way below their world wide counterparts in all academic areas.

Lisa

January 22nd, 2013
4:22 pm

I teach like there’s no tomorrow. I feel as if I put in 100% all of the time for my students. However, if my students did the same “my” test scores would raise themselves. Also, if I were allowed to TEACH the material better and more in-depth instead of taking several days to test what hasn’t been taught, again “my” scores would raise themselves.

Atlanta Mom

January 22nd, 2013
5:05 pm

From my conversations with teachers, they know who the good teachers are, who the bad teachers are, and who’s phoning it in. I think we should let teachers rate other teachers.

Spider S

January 22nd, 2013
5:31 pm

There need to be many measures of teacher performance. We need to look at a pre and post tests that show exactly what the student has learned in the school year, parent/student surveys, principal observations, test scores and peer reviews. We also need to take a look at teachers that are in very challenging situations. We need some sort of mathematical system that takes into account if you have a class full of learning disabled or ESOL students.

Ralph

January 22nd, 2013
6:02 pm

Kids can cannibalistic toward teachers. The very idea of putting a teacher’s evaluation at the mercy of spoiled brats who don’t want to work hard is beyond idiotic.

Ralph

January 22nd, 2013
6:04 pm

Unfortunately, the system today requires teaching for standardized tests rather than inspiring curiosity and creativity in young minds. Great teachers are driven to early retirement by the mindlessness of the system today.

10:10 am

January 22nd, 2013
6:05 pm

Happily, when it came to test results, the better teachers seldom had anything to worry about—at the schools I spent my teaching career at.

Perhaps what legislators need to concentrate on is making turnover of ineffective/malcontented staffers more rapid … so that the ten or more qualified applicants for each teaching position have an opportunity to show what they can do.

Ron F

January 22nd, 2013
6:41 pm

“This is not surprising. People do not feel comfortable with change. That is inherent with established organizations. It’s called “organizational inertia.””

It’s not about “inertia.” If you were a teacher, you’d know how absolutely laughable that notion is. Inert teachers just don’t make it in any system I’ve worked in over the years. Some are out there, but they have become a small minority in my experience. We are constantly facing change, with new programs and plans being implemented at a brisk pace throughout the state.

The problem is that test scores and student surveys give you no completely reliable data on a teacher’s work or a student’s learning. I don’t fear surveys myself, but I can see how teachers who kids consider “hard” or “mean” could get very bad reviews. We’re talking about KIDS, who cannot be relied on to provide an accurate, unemotional survey. They aren’t adults and don’t think like them, but we expect them to give an accurate report on a teacher?!! How ridiculous! I teach kids whose test scores are usually in the passing or below range. Many make great strides that don’t show accurately in standardized test scores. Their growth, and the importance of it, is unimportant when the sole measure of their learning is ONE test score. Learning needs to be assessed in multiple ways, which would also provide a broader base of data to use to determine teacher effectiveness.

bill

January 22nd, 2013
6:41 pm

Why do business people and guys like Gates get to decide education issues. As far as I know teachers aren’t telling Gates how to sell computer stuff. They don’t understand teachers work with the most imperfect product, people. And sometimes people go through crisises or simply choose not to apply themselves. We have understand the kids before we start understanding the teachers. Doing it in isolation is plain stupid, but thats what we do.

Grob Hahn

January 22nd, 2013
6:56 pm

The usual parent-bashing and teacher bashing. Teachers, you lose credibility when one of your own sucks and you don’t do the professional thing and weed them out. You also have the students for far more hours than the parents, so who is really in the best position to deal with the discipline problems here? Parents, you can read a report card, but can you inspire your children? It’s hard to do in 2 or 3 hours a day, but look at all the wonderful support you’re getting from the schools!

And to all of us, YES, the black kids ARE the biggest educational and discipline problem in the metro Atlanta area. This has not changed since the 60s folks. Time to quit lying about it. Time to quit studying it. It’s time to address it instead of calling all the realists “racists” for pointing this glaring FACT out. The worst racism is ignoring the problem.
Grobbbbbbbbbbb

bill

January 22nd, 2013
7:08 pm

Explain why the teacher stinks. Teachers don’t governor anything but classrooms. Maybe people should stop looking at teachers as babysitter, pay them more then football coach. Even though I like football. You wanna get bad teachers then pay them.

bill

January 22nd, 2013
7:15 pm

I mean society should pay people for teaching your kid.Low pay keeps it at a place were you have bad teachers. Its not consider a profession in many peoples’ mind. And it is. Teachers aren’t defending bad teachers they don’t have time for that. It’s people not giving teach enough importance.