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Teacher Evaluation, Controversial Topics

Teacher Evaluation, Controversial Topics

Author: Ashley Sweatt

In this lesson, students will explore what makes the teacher evaluation process so controversial

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Hi, my name is Ashley, and today's lesson's titled Teacher Evaluation Controversial Topics. In today's lesson, we'll look at the controversies of teacher evaluation. We'll look at the problems that are identified by the educational research, the concerns of the SEA, issues that surround the value-added model, and issues with incentive pay. Lastly, we'll look at alternatives of incentive pay.

What are the problems identified through educational research? Brookings Center, a major source of educational research, has identified the following concerns of using teacher evaluation. Teachers are concerned with public release of their information. This information may include salary and other personal and job-related details. There are conflicts between the interests of the students versus interests of the teachers. There is concern about the use of high-stakes tests to make major decisions.

Another concern that was found was the consistency of evaluators. How can we really rely on the people that are making these major decisions on our behalf? Do they have our best interests at heart?

Lastly, the difference of school climates and the resources throughout the district and even the state was a concern. Something that I've seen previously in a school district that I once worked for was that some of the schools on one half of the district were in really good condition. And they received the resources that they needed. But then schools on the other half were lacking resources. And there was tension between the two sides. This is definitely an issue when it seems like resources are not distributed equally.

What are the concerns of the SEA? It is the job of the State Education Agency, also known as the SEA, to report to the US Department of Education the availability of highly-qualified teachers for protected students. In order to do this, the SEA must retrieve this information from school districts.

With the use of an even more rigorous teacher evaluation model, there has been a very high percentage of highly-qualified teachers. Members of the SEA are concerned that reports are being manipulated to show teachers are highly qualified when they're actually not. And they're also concerned that scores are inflated and some teachers don't have appropriate credentials or have not been exposed to an extensive teacher training program.

What issues surround the value-added model? The value-added model, a model also known as VAM, is where teacher evaluations are related to student achievement on state assessments. Students of highly-effective teachers show the most growth year after year.

But what happens when a teacher teaches a specific subject or grade that does not offer a state assessment? Student growth cannot be shown through standardized testing if it's not offered for that grade level or subject. And those teachers are at a disadvantage. Another concern is whether or not standardized tests are a good measure of knowledge for all students despite race or socioeconomic status.

With this being said, there are other concerns about allowing student test data to be directly related to teacher employment. Research agrees that tests should not influence high-stakes decisions for the following reasons. Student mobility-- students move often. And let's say you get a student three months before the state tests. And that student has not been in the classroom for the entire year to receive that education. That could negatively affect a teacher's employment or pay.

Diversity among students is another factor. Students all have different backgrounds and different abilities. Major decisions should not be based on tests also because resources vary from district to district. Some districts have the advantage of having the newest supplies and resources.

The quality and frequency of professional development opportunities are not the same from district to district either. There may be a lack of availability of induction or coaching and mentoring for new teachers depending on the school district. There are also other concerns that are not listed here that would support why high-stakes tests should not be used for high-stakes decisions.

What are the issues with incentive pay? Incentive pay is an extra payment for teachers as a result of student achievement. This is something that my school district decided to do a few years ago. And of course, not all schools were chosen, but it was just a pilot program. And they only chose eight schools out of the district. My school was one that was chosen.

The issues with incentive pay is there is a lack of data that actually links student achievement with incentive pay. And in some cases, it has been known to cause rifts between teachers, which affects the school morale.

Incentive pay is being used in some school districts. Like I said before, this occurred in the school district that I worked in. Teacher evaluation, in addition to the student performance on tests, was used to decide if I was going to qualify for the incentive pay. I don't recall staff members being upset with each other. But I do remember having to do a lot of data analysis and having to make spreadsheets and record and reflect student data.

What are the alternatives of incentive pay? Career ladders is a system used for evaluation that identifies teachers for continuation, tenure, improvement, or dismissal. These programs are significantly powered by the use of a mentor or coach that guides teachers using professional standards. With the effect of mentoring teachers-- with effective mentors, teachers have a higher retention rate.

The Teacher Advancement Program is a career ladder system. And this program is found in Connecticut, the ProComp system in Denver and Arizona. In this program, highly-qualified mentors and principals evaluate teachers at least six times during the school year. The process involves the use of observations, planing, videos, and conferences. Professional development is also tied into this mentoring process.

Teachers are not the only ones who benefit from this mentorship. Student growth is related to teacher growth. The Teacher Advancement Program is being considered as an alternative for incentive pay so compensation is not only based on standardized achievement data.

Let's recap what we've discussed in today's lesson. There are many controversies around the topic of teacher evaluations and how much weight they should have when pay and employment are involved.

Educational research has found that even high-stakes tests are being used for teacher compensation. And that is a concern for some. The SEA is concerned that some teachers are manipulating their evaluation results due to the inflation of scores. Value-added model is an approach to link teacher evaluations to student achievement.

The research has also shown why high-stakes tests should not be involved with making high-stakes decisions. Lastly, the career ladder system is being explored as an alternative to the incentive pay so teacher compensation will not be based solely upon student achievement data.

As the lesson comes to an end, review the pros and cons of teacher evaluation and the effects it has on the entire school community. For more information on how to apply what you've learned in this video, please use the additional resources section that accompanies this video presentation. The additional resources section includes hyperlinks useful for applications of the course material, including a brief description of each resource.

Notes on "Teacher Evaluation, Controversial Topics"


(00:00 - 00:11) Introduction

(00:12 - 00:34) What Will You Learn Today?

(00:35 - 01:50) What are the Problems Identified Through Educational Research?

(01:51 - 02:40) What are the Concerns of the SEA?

(02:41 - 04:33) What Issues Surround the Value-Added Model?

(04:34 - 05:38) What are the Issues With Incentive Pay?

(05:39 - 06:54) What are the Alternatives of Incentive Pay?

(06:55 - 07:47) What Did You Learn Today?

(07:48 - 08:15) Reflection