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Teacher Evaluation Guidelines Raise Question of Time, Resources


In April, the Virginia Board of Education approved new guidelines for teacher evaluation that may well influence the evaluation methods and process in your local school division.

Virginia state law leaves evaluation decisions to the local school board. Typically, however, local school boards adopt the state guidelines.

 Here's what you need to know about the new guidelines:

  • The guidelines suggest that student academic progress should count for 40 percent of a teachers’ evaluation. Multiple measures of student academic performance are suggested, including, where available, student growth data tracked by the Virginia Department of Education.
  • For teachers who either teach or support reading and math in grades 4-8 and Algebra 1, it is recommended that 20 percent of the evaluation be based on the new SOL test-based Student Growth Profile. The other 20 percent is to be based on other measures of student academic progress. The intention is that the measures be criterion-referenced, standardized tests whenever possible.
  • For teachers who do not teach or support reading and math in grades 4-8 and Algebra 1, the entire 40 percent is to be based on other measures of student academic progress. The intention is that the measures be criterion-referenced, standardized tests whenever possible.
  • Adoption of the guidelines by local school divisions is optional. However, in certain cases where school divisions contain schools participating in the federal School Improvement Grant (SIG) process, a new evaluation system based on student progress must be adopted. Your local UniServ director has a list of SIG schools. Other school divisions are free to modify or adopt the Guidelines on their own timetable.
  • If adopted wholesale, the implementation of the Guidelines will require a significant amount of time and data collection by teachers and administrators, as well as significant training.

VEA was represented on the panel that developed the Guidelines, and VEA President Dr. Kitty Boitnott reminded the Board in April that the Guidelines will require considerable time and resources to work effectively. With many school budgets feeling the aftershocks of the poor economy, she said, “we worry that the necessary financial resources will not be available to support the many significant changes needed in order for the proposal to achieve its goals.” (Read her complete testimony below.)

The Association stands ready to assist members affected by the new Guidelines. As new local policies and protocols are considered, Association members must be afforded meaningful involvement. VEA recommends a 7-step process

  1. Enlist volunteers
  2. Start small
  3. Offer incentives and provide support
  4. Study examples of best practice
  5. Allow time for change
  6. Provide training
  7. Conduct field tests and refine the process

Your UniServ office, along with the VEA Office of Teaching and Learning, is ready to assist you in this process. Please contact your local UniServ office, or Bekah Saxon of the Office of Teaching and Learning at VEA headquarters (800-552-9554) for more information and guidance.

For More

  • Read Boitnott’s complete testimony below.
  • Examine the Guidelines yourself here.
  • Learn more about why standardized test scores should be just one factor in a teacher evaluation system. This article in the Virginia Journal of Education is an excellent summary of the issues.

 


Remarks by Dr. Kitty Boitnott, VEA President

Good morning, President Saslaw, Members of the Board, Dr. Wright. My name is Kitty Boitnott, and I am President of the Virginia Education Association. I would like to speak this morning regarding the Teacher Evaluation Guidelines that you will be adopting today. We want to thank Department staff members for all their hard work and we very much appreciate being given an opportunity to participate in the Work Group.

The current revisions come at a time when public education is under intense scrutiny and unprecedented pressures. We appreciate the context in which these discussions have occurred. However, we believe we would be remiss in not publicly sharing our concerns with you.

Time and resources are first and foremost among our concerns regarding the possibility for effective implementation of this proposed evaluation model.  Indeed, we would submit that time and resources are a significant reason why current evaluation systems are mostly ineffective. Time and training both require funding, however, and in light of budgetary realities, we worry that the necessary financial resources will not be available to support the many significant changes needed in order for the proposal to achieve its goals.

In general, we also continue to be very concerned about the emphasis on standardized tests which we argue have shown no evidence to date of actually improving student achievement and may, in fact, be responsible for the narrowing of curriculum and may ultimately have detrimental impacts on students. 

We are pleased that the proposed revisions stress that “student learning must be assessed in multiple ways over time.” In fact, we do not believe that the measures should be restricted to tests alone, whether they be SOL tests or other standardized tests.

We also have serious concerns about the proposed “growth measure” using the SOL tests. We believe, as do the assessment experts currently working on new assessments through the two national assessment consortia, that current state assessments lack precision in measuring what students know and are able to do. Consequently the current assessments prohibit accurate growth measurement.

Finally, while we recognize that the state is required by law to create and report a student growth measure, given the various technical concerns about the current Student Growth Profile and high achieving students, combined with the fact that significant changes in assessment and reporting are likely once ESEA is re-authorized, it is our recommendation that the SGP have a limited roll-out over time. We also feel that a reasonable compromise should be sought in which the data is reported but not used for any high-stakes decision-making until the validity issues can be addressed and any changes required by ESEA re-authorization can be implemented.

Thank you for giving me this time this morning. As always, we look forward to working with department staff in any way we can in order to make sure that implementation across the state is fair to everyone concerned.


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