The state should consider trimming the requirement that links 50 percent of annual teacher evaluations to student test scores, a key lawmaker and others on a panel studying the issue said Monday.
Under a 2012 state law pushed by Gov. Bobby Jindal, half of the job review for some teachers is based on the growth of student achievement through exam results and half on traditional classroom observations by principals.
Critics contend that relying on test score results for half of a job review is too high and out of step with most other states.
“I don’t know that there is anyone at the table that is happy with the 50-50,” said Carol Price, a teacher at Zachary High School and a member of the Accountability Commission.
State Rep. Frank Hoffmann, R-West Monroe and sponsor of another law that revamped teacher reviews, said the weight given to test scores is one of several areas that need scrutiny before the commission makes its recommendations to the Legislature in February.
“We need to take a look at how it’s working and if we need to make changes,” Hoffmann said of Louisiana’s teacher job review system, which is called Compass.
He said another topic that needs attention is whether the state should stick with the current rule that forces teachers rated as ineffective to lose tenure, which is a form of job protection.
The revamped reviews stem from arguments that, under the state’s old system, 98 percent or more of teachers statewide routinely got satisfactory ratings.
Those evaluations were based only on principal observations.
Backers said connecting part of the reviews to how students fared on standardized tests, and whether they showed gains from previous years, would improve teacher quality and improve student achievement.
The 2012 state law won approval despite heated protests from teachers unions and other public school groups, including some that are represented on the commission.
Steve Monaghan, president of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, said job evaluations should vary rather than relying on a one-size-fits-all state system.
Debbie Schum, executive director of the Louisiana Association of Principals and a former teacher in LaPlace, said few other states rely on test scores for half the rating.
Schum said 50 percent “is too high for what a teacher is doing on a day-to-day basis.”
She suggested 20 percent. Others said 30 percent.
Sandra McCalla, principal of Captain Shreve High School in Shreveport and a panel member, also criticized the current rules.
“As a high school principal, I have Algebra I teachers who don’t want to teach that again,” McCalla said.
“I really don’t understand how the growth is measured,” she said. “I have a real problem with what is happening.”
Under the state law, about 30 percent of teachers statewide face job ratings connected to student test scores, including math, science and other teachers whose subjects include objective criteria.
Reviews for other teachers in more subjective areas are linked to yearly student goals — called student learning targets — hammered out at the start of the school year by teachers and principals.
Teachers are graded on a four-point scale that ranges from highly effective to ineffective.