School districts retooling how they evaluate teachers
The district has begun tracking the test scores of students, classroom by classroom, trying to figure out whether they achieve sufficient progress. If they don't, teachers could see their raises jeopardized.
It's a radical step for a school district, one that no other system in Illinois appears to have taken. But with the Obama administration pushing the concept, many education professionals -- even those critical of the practice -- say data-driven teacher evaluations look like an unstoppable trend.
The public school system in Washington, D.C., imposed its new evaluation system through an act of Congress. It uses statistical models to predict how well a given class should do in the course of a year. Teachers who better that mark could be in line for a bonus. Those who fall short might be fired.
Evanston's District 65, which educates children from kindergarten through eighth grade, designed a two-part evaluation system. One uses an appraisal of classroom teaching style, and the other examines test scores.
At the start of the year, students take a test that is meant to show whether they are performing at grade level. They take another at year's end to determine their progress.
Teachers who earn a rating of "excellent" are expected to move at least one low scoring child to grade level while assuring that most of the class gained a full year of growth, no matter where each child began.
That score-dependent rating is combined with the traditional evaluation to produce a final appraisal of excellent, satisfactory or unsatisfactory. A teacher needs at least one excellent rating over several years to earn a merit pay boost.
The system, created with union input, includes wiggle room -- a student's test scores can be discounted if, say, an illness kept him out of school for an extended period -- but it has put an unprecedented focus on results.
Michael Dougherty, principal of Orrington Elementary, said his teachers have so far remained positive about the change, though fifth-grade teacher Amy Kipfer said she was cautious.
"Tests are not infallible," she said, recalling how a painting crew outside the building distracted her students one testing day. "I feel confident at this moment that the fullness of the child will be measured. But I don't know that our plan is written in such a way that all schools can be sure of that."
Because of this, the agency stressed the importance of maintaining a healthy, drug-free lifestyle among the youth, by making them aware of the problem of illegal drugs in the country.
In the recently concluded 7th Asian Youth Congress held in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, DDB Chairman Vicente Sotto III said that the youth should be mobilized to help in the government’s anti-illegal drugs efforts to “help us win the war against illegal drugs and drug abuse.”