A state panel Tuesday voted 17-0 to extend for another year the suspension of linking the growth of student achievement to teacher job reviews, raising questions on whether that controversial form of oversight will ever return.
The recommendation was the key suggestion by a committee of educators, lawmakersand others that spent months studying the volatile issue of how teachers are evaluated.
The suggestions were sent to the state Board of Elementary and Secondary and Education and the Legislature.
BESE may tackle the issue when it meets March 5-6.
The Legislature, which begins its 2015 regular session on April 13, may get involved.
A 2010 state law pushed by Gov. Bobby Jindaloverhauled the way teachers were reviewed, with half of the job check tied to gains in student academic achievement and half based on traditional observations by principals.
But linking student growth on key tests to teacher job reviews was suspended by BESE in 2013 for two years during the state’s move to Common Core. They are set to resume for the 2015-16 school year.
However, state Rep. Frank Hoffmann, R-West Monroe and sponsor of the 2010 law, said the moratorium on the controversial job evaluations should be lengthened until officials can do more studies on their reliability.
“Teachers are not sure it is working,” Hoffmann said. “I think we have a lack of confidence.”
State Department of Education officials had suggested giving principals more latitude in the teacher reviews.
The job checks under scrutiny apply to about 17,000 teachers of math, science and other subjects that can be tied to objective test results — the Value Added Model.
Others are measured on goals for student growth agreed to at the start of the school year by teachers and principals — Student Learning Targets.
Jindal and other backers have long argued that linking job checks with how students fare in the classroom would improve achievement by upgrading teacher quality.
Teacher union leaders and other critics said the evaluations are unfair and that student achievement could stall or drop for a wide range of reasons, regardless of the teacher’s effectiveness.
Hoffmann, a member of the panel, initially proposed an outright suspension of the job checks linked to the growth of student test scores.
Ascension Parish Superintendent Patrice Pujol, another member of the committee, suggested simply adding a year to the current suspension while officials continue to review the value of the evaluations.
Les Landon, an official of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, endorsed Hoffmann’s suggestion.
Landon said teachers have no confidence in job evaluations linked to student academic growth.
Senate Education Committee Chairman Conrad Appel, R-Metairie, a member of the panel, said the one-year extension exceeded the mission of the committee.
“This goes way far afield from what we were charged with doing,” Appel said.
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