Louisiana public school teachers improve in job reviews, but superintendent of education notices issue with evaluations _lowres

Advocate file photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- State Superintendent of Education John White

Amid less rigorous reviews, public school teachers showed gains Wednesday in their annual job evaluations.

A total of 43 percent of teachers landed the top rating — “highly effective” — compared to 32 percent last year.

State Superintendent of Education John White, who spelled out the results, said there were other signs of what he called inflation in this year’s marks.

White said 62 percent of teachers won the top rating in meeting student learning targets, up from 58 percent last year, and a more subjective job review than those linked to the growth of student achievement.

School districts this year and next are not required to factor objective student gains in the final calculations, a highly controversial gauge that the state has shelved temporarily during the move to Common Core.

“While we should be very proud of our teachers that got highly effective, we should also note that the inflation of highly effective (teachers) outpaced the growth of student achievement scores across the state this year,” White said. “Meaning that our own evaluation of ourselves as adults grew faster than did the ratings of the students.

“That is something that administrators in our state need to look at very seriously,” he said. “When we evaluate ourselves at a level that is more generous than we are evaluating our students we are not doing kids any favors.”

The snapshot of how teachers and principals are faring, which is called Compass, marks the second such review.

Under the previous system, teacher job checks were based on classroom observations by principals, and 99 percent of teachers got satisfactory marks.

Under the new setup, evaluations are supposed to be based on classroom observations — 50 percent — and either the growth of student achievement or student learning targets agreed to by teachers and principals.

White said most local districts took advantage of the two-year timeout in having to rely on test scores for some teachers and opted for student learning targets and what they saw in the classroom, usually through two or more visits.

Aside from the top rating the results show that:

  • 49 percent of teachers got the second highest rating of “effective/proficient,” down from 57 percent last year and a sign of better than average teaching.
  • 6 percent were classified as “effective/emerging,” down from 8 percent last year and a sign that improvement is needed.
  • 2 percent were labeled “ineffective,” down from 4 percent last year.

White said this year’s marks also show that rigor varies widely on how teachers and principals are judged, which he noted last year.

“There are 1,400 schools,” he told reporters. “This system is playing out in 1,400 different ways.”

The Ascension Parish school system, which is one of the top-ranked in the state, showed that 23 percent of its teachers earned the top rating for teachers.

In the East Baton Rouge Parish School District, which is rated 43rd in the state, 51 percent of teachers did so.

White said there is a clear correlation between local districts that set high bars for rating teachers and principals and student gains.

In the classroom part of the observations, 38 percent of teachers statewide got the top rating.

But of the top 10 school districts that increased student achievement to grade level and above, eight came up with a lower percentage of teachers that earned top marks.

Of the top 100 schools that increased the percentage of students who achieved grade level and above, 72 were below the state average in giving teachers the top grades.

The state Department of Education said schools doing it right include Dutchtown Middle School and East Ascension High School in Ascension Parish; Brownfields Elementary School and Crestworth Elementary School in East Baton Rouge Parish; Bridgedale Elementary School in Jefferson Parish and Woodlake Elementary School in St. Tammany Parish.

Debbie Meaux, president of the Louisiana Association of Educators and an opponent of the reviews, disputed White’s view on why the ratings criteria differs among districts.

“I think that points up that there is no commonality among the evaluators,” she said. “In other words, they are not seeing and then scoring the same things in the same manner. There are discrepancies in the training of the evaluators.”

Meaux is on a committee that is reviewing teacher evaluations, and she said she hopes more criteria is added to future job checks.

“If we want a system that truly evaluates teachers on multiple measures two measures are not multiple measures,” she said.

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