Leaders of one of Louisiana’s top two teacher unions Wednesday criticized a 2010 state law that will link annual teacher evaluations in part to student achievement.
“What we have said is that you should use multiple measures,” said Michael Walker-Jones, executive director of the Louisiana Association of Educators.
But a top official of the state Department of Education said state legislators would have to act to lessen the reliance on student test scores.
“The law would have to be changed,” said George Noell, executive director of research for the agency.
Under current rules, roughly 50,000 public school teachers go through formal reviews once every three years.
The new law requires yearly reviews, and 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation will be linked to gains in student achievement.
A teacher-dominated state committee has been crafting the system for nearly a year.
The plan is supposed to be turned over to the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education by April 30.
The new evaluations are to take effect for the 2012-13 school year.
Officials of the LAE asked to meet with the panel Wednesday.
However, fewer than five of the 32 members were on hand for the roughly four-hour presentation.
The law, which is backed by Gov. Bobby Jindal, is aimed at improving student performance by upgrading teacher skills.
LAE leaders opposed the measure when it went through the Legislature, called it unfair to teachers and said any linkage to gains in student achievement should be well under 50 percent.
Noell has said that, with two or three years of prior achievement, officials “have a pretty good idea” of how students will perform.
Teachers who fail to meet what the state considers adequate academic progress compared with previous years face intensive assistance programs, and eventually dismissal.
Joyce Haynes, president of the LAE, said the evaluations will force teachers to focus on end-of-the-year tests rather than long-term learning.
“In the short run this may improve students’ tests scores, but in the long run it really hurts effective instruction and student learning,” she said in a prepared statement distributed at the meeting.
Haynes is a member of the committee setting up the evaluation system.
BESE President Penny Dastugue said linking half of a teacher’s evaluation to the growth of student achievement makes sense.
“How else would you measure effective teaching?” Dastugue asked in a telephone interview after the meeting.