Grading the Graders: How Dallas ISD Principals Think Teachers Ought to Be Evaluated

Said it yesterday: Many interesting agenda items on the Dallas ISD board's to-do list Thursday. Among them is an update on that teacher evaluation system, of which we've taken note a few times in recent months as trustees spend the next year figuring out how to best grade the graders. Input's being gathered now; implementation's expected to begin in August 2012. Though for some, it can't come fast enough: Per the briefing you'll find on the other side: Ninety-eight percent of 10,248 teachers evaluated during and following the last school year received the rating of "meets expectations" ... and that includes at the 33 academically unacceptable campuses, "where 16 campuses did not rate a single teacher as below expectations.'"

What you see comes from an October survey wherein 137 principals and 2,736 teachers were asked how they'd like to see teachers evaluated. And what, you're asking, are value-added measures? Glad you asked:

High value-added teachers are not just "teaching to the test." Critics have speculated that high value-added teachers are simply coaching students to do well on state tests. But researchers found that teachers with high value-added on state tests tend to promote deeper conceptual understanding as well.
Some are all for using VAM to evaluate teachers; others, quite agin it.
Aside from inaccurate personnel decisions, other negative consequences have resulted from overreliance on VAM in teacher evaluation. Research shows that an excessive focus on basic math and reading scores can lead to narrowing and oversimplifying the curriculum and discourage teachers from wanting to work in schools with the neediest students.
The whole presentation's after the jump; and when you're done with that, here's a little extra-credit homework, a paper from last year titled "Problems with the use of student test scores to evaluate teachers" co-authored by, among others, Diane Ravitch that also touched on value-added measures ("VAM methods have also contributed to stronger analyses of school progress, program influences, and the validity of evaluation methods than were previously possible").

Oh, and one more thing: The board will meet at 3700 Ross at 6 tonight for a workshop, during which trustees will update the superintendent search and discuss their "educational philosophy." Can't wait.

Teacher Evaluation System Update

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky