Education Week - November 15, 2017 - 16
Shifts Seen on Teacher
Job Review Policies
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
now lets districts choose how they're
Those are all "signals [states] are
backing away from the inclusion of
student-growth or value-added measures," said Stephanie Aragon, a policy analyst for ECS.
The changes are due, at least partly,
to the increased flexibility that states
have under the new federal education
law, the Every Student Succeeds Act.
Some analysts, though, say it's still
unclear whether states will follow
any sort of trend on teacher evaluation.
"It is playing out and will play out
differently across the 50 states," said
Patrick McGuinn, an associate professor of political science and education
at Drew University in New Jersey.
"The forces at play here are pushing in a couple different directions
around teacher evaluation."
'Took the Hook Too Quickly'
Teachers' unions have generally fought the use of test scores in
teacher evaluations, particularly
when those evaluations lead to decisions about teachers' tenure, pay, and
The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association filed more than a dozen lawsuits nationwide between 2011 and
2015 related to teacher-evaluation
systems. The AFT briefly championed the slogan "VAM is a sham,"
referring to value-added measures,
which use complicated algorithms
to determine how much a teacher
contributed to students' academic
growth over a year.
Arguments against using studentgrowth measures, as well as hangups encountered in implementing
such systems, have been persuasive
in some states.
"Even for those who ultimately believe in the value of measuring out-
comes and even accountability systems somehow linked to outcomes,
the eagerness to jump really quickly
on value-added measures and testbased accountability was premature,"
said Jeffrey Henig, a professor of political science and education at Teachers College, Columbia University.
Among some state leaders there is "a
recognition ... that we took the hook
too quickly and too eagerly here."
At the same time, legislatures and
state school boards that pushed for
the inclusion of test scores may be
reluctant to turn their backs on those
policies too soon. In some places, the
evaluation systems were just getting
going when ESSA was passed in December 2015.
"I don't think anyone [is] overly enthusiastic to undo something they'd
worked four to five years to roll out,"
I don't think anyone
[is] overly enthusiastic
to undo something
they'd worked four to
five years to roll out."
National Conference of State
Legislatures Program Director
said Michelle Exstrom, a program director at the National Conference of
In weighing whether to change
these evaluation systems, state leaders are likely considering the time,
energy, and resources they've put
into developing them. "There's a lot
of sunk costs there," said McGuinn.
"And that dynamic works to sustain
these systems for a bit."
Nevada, Kentucky, and Florida
illustrate the range of approaches
states are using in their most
recent revamps of teacher
Annual teacher evaluations were
traditionally based on information
from a single source: observations
Starting in 2009, a confluence of
factors led to more than two dozen
states stiffening their teacher-evaluation requirements. That year, TNTP
(formerly the New Teacher Project)
published a seminal report called
"The Widget Effect," which found that
99 percent of all teachers were being
rated as "satisfactory." Policymakers
and education leaders began questioning the validity of evaluation systems that failed to distinguish among
The Obama administration began
its Race to the Top program toward
the end of that year. The competitivegrant program offered states financial incentives to include student-test
data in their evaluation systems.
At about the same time, the Bill
& Melinda Gates Foundation began
pouring millions of dollars into studying teacher quality. (Education Week
currently receives financial support
from the Gates Foundation for coverage of continuous improvement
strategies in education.) The foundation's high-profile "Measures of Effective Teaching" study was among
the largest randomized experiments
of its kind, collecting data on 3,000
teachers across six large districts in
order to compare different methods
for gauging teacher performance.
And then there were the waivers.
Starting in 2011, the U.S. Department of Education began offering
states relief from some of the stringent requirements in what was then
the main federal education law, the
No Child Left Behind Act. (Among
other provisions, the law mandated
that all students perform at grade
level in reading and math by 2014.)
To get that flexibility-which most
states ultimately did-states had to
commit to linking student-achievement outcomes to their teacher-evaluation systems.
With all those incentives in place,
the number of states using studentgrowth data in their evaluations skyrocketed, going from just 15 states in
2009 to 43 at the end of 2015, according to NCTQ.
Despite making those commitments,
states actually implemented the policies at different speeds. Tennessee, for
instance, was an early implementer of
this kind of evaluation system-and
hit roadblocks right away. Nevada, on
the other hand, passed a law in 2011
requiring the use of student-test scores
but had yet to start incorporating the
data five years later.
ESSA Offers Reprieve
But with the 2015 passage of
ESSA, states almost immediately got
The bipartisan law put teacher
evaluation back in states' hands-
in essence renouncing the Obama
administration's push for strict testbased accountability.
While six states dropped requirements around using student-growth
in evaluations, they did so in different ways.
Some, like Arkansas and Kentucky,
did so through state legislation. In
What's Next for This Tough Evaluation System?
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
mally effective" or just plain "ineffective." Another third are seen as
"highly effective" or "exemplary."
The state's system has won plaudits from national teacher-quality
organizations and some New Mexico
educators for showing real differences in teacher performance. But
it's angered other teachers-and
their unions-who see it as deeply
unfair. And it may not survive a
looming political shift.
For two years in a row, more than
a dozen teachers, including some
that had been rated highly effective,
burned their evaluations in front of
the Albuquerque district headquarters. State affiliates of both the Na-
tional Education Association and the
American Federation of Teachers
filed separate lawsuits over different
aspects of the performance reviews.
Republican Gov. Susana Martinez-a champion of the system-
will leave office in early 2019. And
expectations are that her successor-
whether a Democrat or Republican-
will replace the current state education chief, Christopher Ruszkowski.
The state's performance-review system-which largely exists in regulation but not in law-could go out the
door with him.
Some teachers say that change
can't come soon enough.
"I have good evaluations and I still
know it's a horrible system," said
Sean Thomas, a social studies and
16 | EDUCATION WEEK | November 15, 2017 | www.edweek.org
psychology teacher at Eldorado High
School in Albuquerque and a vice
president of his local union. "So much
of it's subjective, and what's objective
they can't explain."
But others don't want to see the
end of a system that has recognized
their efforts for the first time in their
"I have always been that teacher
who worked too hard, and, according
to a lot of people, expected too much
of kids," said Janet Weeden, a 30year veteran who teaches high school
English at Explore Academy Charter
School in Albuquerque and a participant in an initiative to bring teacher
perspective to the state's education
department. "When the teacher evaluation went through, I had the high-
est scores. It validated what I did in
my classroom. I thought 'yes!' "
New Mexico launched its new
teacher-evaluation system, which
tied performance reviews in part
to student growth on standardized
tests, in 2012. At the time, nearly
every state was in the same boat.
The Obama administration required
states to embrace such evaluations,
in exchange for flexibility from the
much-maligned No Child Left Behind Act.
Opening Door to Change
Congress put a stop to that when
it passed the Every Student Succeeds Act, which explicitly prohibits
the U.S. secretary of education from
PREVIOUSLY: Student growth
accounted for 40 percent of
teacher evaluation by 2017-18.
Was derived from state test
scores, among other sources.
AS OF 2017: Student growth
accounts for 20 percent of teacher
evaluation in 2017-18, and 40
percent thereafter. Must be in the
form of student learning goals;
cannot be derived from state test
PREVIOUSLY: Student growth
was "preponderant" criterion in
teacher evaluation. Teachers with
low student-growth measures
could not be rated exemplary.
AS OF 2017: Student growth
no longer a required part of a
teacher's evaluation. School
districts can develop and
implement their own systems
within the statewide framework.
(The state uses Charlotte
PREVIOUSLY: At least one-third
of teacher-evaluation scores must
be based on data and indicators
of student performance. Measures
of student growth must be derived
from the state's value-added
AS OF 2017: At least one-third
of teacher-evaluation scores
must still be based on data
and indicators of student
performance. Districts can
determine how they measure
student growth; they no longer
have to use a state-approved
SOURCES: Education Commission of
the States, National Council on Teacher
Quality, state legislation
interfering in teacher-performance
Since the law passed, at least six
states-Arkansas, Alaska, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, and
Oklahoma-have nixed the studentgrowth component in their evaluation systems, according to the National Council on Teacher Quality,
a Washington-based research and
Elizabeth Ross, the managing
director of state policy at NCTQ,
is heartened that New Mexico has
stuck with its system despite years
of pushback. After all, she said,
there's no way teachers can improve
if they're not getting meaningful
And Ruszkowski thinks that states
that step away from teacher evaluation tied to student outcomes are
doing children a big disservice.
"I see states and other districts
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - November 15, 2017
Education Week - November 15, 2017
E-Schools Adapting to Transgender Students’ Needs
In Florida, Laissez-Faire Approach to Monitoring Private School Vouchers
New Survey Details Effect of Inclusion on Teaching Time
Are States Changing Course On Teacher Evaluation?
News in Brief
Teaching Parents the Right ‘Questions to Ask’ in Schools
Rising Food Allergies A Challenge for Schools
GreatSchools Expands Its Ratings on Schools
Study: Do Parents Need a Reason To Go School Shopping?
SNAPSHOT: Single-Gender Education
New Mexico Offers Teachers A Seat at Policymaking Table
Repercussions for K-12 From Democratic Election Gains
GOP Tax Plans Could Affect K-12 Aid, Teachers’ Pocketbooks
A One-Year Scorecard for Trump On K-12 Campaign-Trail Promises
A Primer on the Teacher Tax Break
Emily Phillips Galloway, Paola Uccelli & Christina Dobbs: The Power of Precise Language
Adam Urbanski, Tom Alves & Ellen Bernstein: Without Teacher Input, Ed. Reform Is Doomed to Fail
William Sterrett: Time Is a Principal’s Most Limited Resource
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Elaine Weiss & Christopher T. Cross: Education’s Golden Rule
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - Are States Changing Course On Teacher Evaluation?
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - Cover2
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - 3
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - Report Roundup
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - 5
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - Teaching Parents the Right ‘Questions to Ask’ in Schools
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - Rising Food Allergies A Challenge for Schools
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - GreatSchools Expands Its Ratings on Schools
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - Study: Do Parents Need a Reason To Go School Shopping?
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - SNAPSHOT: Single-Gender Education
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - 11
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - 12
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - 13
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - 14
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - 15
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - 16
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - New Mexico Offers Teachers A Seat at Policymaking Table
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - 18
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - GOP Tax Plans Could Affect K-12 Aid, Teachers’ Pocketbooks
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - A One-Year Scorecard for Trump On K-12 Campaign-Trail Promises
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - A Primer on the Teacher Tax Break
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - Adam Urbanski, Tom Alves & Ellen Bernstein: Without Teacher Input, Ed. Reform Is Doomed to Fail
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - William Sterrett: Time Is a Principal’s Most Limited Resource
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - Readers React
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - 25
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - Cover3
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - Elaine Weiss & Christopher T. Cross: Education’s Golden Rule