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Audio: Louisiana teachers to be judged more based on students’ performance on tests

Monday, The Lens detailed how teachers prepare to administer annual standardized tests. They must follow the state’s proctoring rules or risk being fired.

Teachers could also be fired if their students don’t score well.

Right now, teachers are judged subjectively — at the beginning of the year, the principal and a teacher discuss how well they think kids will do on tests. But going forward, teachers will be judged on whether their students meet expected outcomes on tests, based on their past performance, behavior and other variables.


This story was produced in collaboration with WWNO-FM, New Orleans’ NPR affiliate.

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About Jessica Williams

Jessica Williams stays on top of the city's loosely organized collection of public schools, with a special emphasis on charter schools. In 2011 she was recognized by the Press Club of New Orleans for her reporting on charter school transparency and governance. In 2012, she was part of a team that received a National Edward R. Murrow Award for their work following a New Orleans family's recovery after Hurricane Katrina. She graduated from Edna Karr Secondary School in Algiers, and she obtained her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Loyola University New Orleans. She can be reached at (504) 575-8191.

  • Lee Barrios

    Seems like we are wasting $50,000 of taxpayer money on the BESE contract for Dr. Douglas Harris to study VAM/COMPASS that could be better used in the classroom. And according to this article! there is high risk of a lawsuit if the legislature does not intercede to end the use of high stakes testing to evaluate teachers.
    Good teaching, poor test scores: Doubt cast on grading teachers by student performance


    Good teaching, poor test scores: Doubt cast on grading teachers by student performance.

    BY LYNDSEY LAYTON May 13 at 12:01 AM
    In the first large-scale analysis of new systems that evaluate teachers based partly on student test scores, two researchers found little or no correlation between quality teaching and the appraisals teachers received.

    The study, published Tuesday in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association, is the latest in a growing body of research that has cast doubt on whether it is possible for states to use empirical data in identifying good and bad teachers.

    “The concern is that these state tests and these measures of evaluating teachers don’t really seem to be associated with the things we think of as defining good teaching,” said Morgan S. Polikoff, an assistant professor of education at the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California. He worked on the analysis with Andrew C. Porter, dean and professor of education at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania.

    The number of states using teacher-evaluation systems based in part on student test scores has surged during the past five years. Many states and school districts are using the evaluation systems to make personnel decisions about hirings, firings and compensation.

    The rapid adoption has been propelled by the Obama administration, which made the teacher-evaluation systems a requirement for any state that wanted to compete for Race to the Top grant money or receive a waiver from the most onerous demands of No Child Left Behind, the 2002 federal education law.

    Thirty-five states and the District of Columbia require student achievement to be a “significant” or the “most significant” factor in teacher evaluations. Just 10 states do not require student test scores to be used in teacher evaluations.

    Most states are using “value-added models” — or VAMs — which are statistical algorithms designed to figure out how much teachers contribute to their students’ learning,holding constant factors such as demographics. Polikoff and Porter analyzed a subsample of 327 fourth- and eighth-grade mathematics and English-language-arts teachers across six school districts in New York, Dallas, Denver, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Memphis and Florida’s Hillsborough County.

    The data came from a larger project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation known as the Measures of Effective Teaching. Polikoff and Porter’s work also was funded by a $125,000 grant from the Gates Foundation.

    The researchers found that some teachers who were well-regarded based on student surveys, classroom observances by principals and other indicators of quality had students who scored poorly on tests. The opposite also was true.

    Teacher-evaluation systems have stirred up controversy and some recent legal challenges.

    The Houston Federation of Teachers filed a federal lawsuit this month charging that Houston’s “value-added” teacher-evaluation system violates educators’ rights.

    Similar legal challenges have popped up in Tennessee and also in Florida, where teachers are in an uproar over a state system that assesses some educators using scores of students they never taught.

    Last month, the American Statistical Association urged states and school districts against using VAM systems to make personnel decisions, noting that recent studies have found that teachers account for a maximum of about 14 percent of a student’s test score, with other factors responsible for the rest.

    Polikoff said policymakers should rethink how they use VAM models.

    “We need to slow down or ease off completely for the stakes for teachers, at least in the first few years, so we can get a sense of what do these things measure, what does it mean,” Polikoff said. “We’re moving these systems forward way ahead of the science in terms of the quality of the measures.”

  • Lee Barrios
  • Lee Barrios

    In August 2010, ten of the nation’s premier educational researchers (Baker, Barton, Darling-Hammond, Haertel, Ladd, Linn, Ravtich, Rothstein, Shavelson & Shepard, 2010) co-authored a report that cautioned against relying on student test scores, even in the popular value-added statistical models, as a major indicator for evaluating teachers. In its news release, the Economic Policy Institute (2010), noted the extraordinary credentials of this group of authors and summarized their caution to policy makers.

    The distinguished authors of EPI’s report, Problems with the Use of Student Test Scores to Evaluate Teachers, include four former presidents of the American Educational Research Association; two former presidents of the National Council on Measurement in Education; the current and two former chairs of the Board of Testing and Assessment of the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences; the president-elect of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management; the former director of the Educational Testing Service’s Policy Information Center and a former associate director of the National Assessment of Educational Progress; a former assistant U.S. Secretary of Education; a former and current member of the National Assessment Governing Board; and the current vice-president, a former president, and three other members of the National Academy of Education.

    The co-authors make clear that the accuracy and reliability of analyses of student test scores, even in their most sophisticated form, is highly problematic for high-stakes decisions regarding teachers. Consequently, policymakers and all stakeholders in education should rethink this new emphasis on the centrality of test scores for holding teachers accountable.

  • Lee Barrios

    Plenty more but I won’t hog the conversation. His about hosting a few teachers who are experts on VAM and COMPASS – Dr. Mercedes Schneider for starters. Author of A Chronicle of Echoes:
    Who’s Who in the Implosion of American Public Education.

  • nickelndime

    Lee Barrios – whar da hell you been? 4gawdsake (dat’s Japanese for…) WDH – Wat Da Hell

  • Lee Barrios

    I’ve been in Baton Rouge! Spread thin. Do you read my blog?

  • nickelndime

    Hey Lee Barrios, thanks for da link. Now I see what u been doin’. May da Schwartz be wit U!