Oklahoma considers value-added teacher evaluations

Value-added teacher evaluations rate teachers as highly effective or ineffective based on whether their students grow academically as expected. It's a controversial evaluation system that an Oklahoma commission is considering.
BY MEGAN ROLLAND mrolland@opubco.com Published: September 30, 2011
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Under a new teacher evaluation system being developed, Oklahoma teachers may be categorized based on whether students in their classroom perform better or worse than expected on standardized tests.

Known as value-added evaluations, the model is notorious for being used in 2010 by the Los Angeles Times to rate about 11,500 elementary school teachers from Los Angeles Unified public schools.

Teachers were ranked on a metric of least effective to most effective depending on students' expected performance. The results were published on the newspaper's website.

Any data used in teacher evaluations in Oklahoma likely would be considered a personnel matter and kept out of the public eye, but the model is essentially the same.

Florida just developed and will implement a value-added evaluation system for teachers using almost $4 million in Race to the Top grant money, according to the Florida Department of Education.

Oklahoma didn't win any Race to the Top funds, but lawmakers mandated the state still develop an evaluation system that uses student growth as measured by state exams to evaluate teachers.

Under the law, student growth will account for 35 percent of a teacher's evaluation and 15 percent of the evaluation will be based on another yet-to-be identified quantitative measure. The other half of a teacher's score will come from qualitative measures such as classroom management.

An 18-person commission — the Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Commission — is tasked with developing that complex system by Dec. 15 and then recommending it to the state Education Board.

Sam Foerster, chairman of the Florida value-added committee, said picking a student-growth evaluation system is about finding the best way possible to measure a teacher's impact on a student over the course of a school year.

“If you believe that there are other factors about a student that might help a student to grow, you want to try to take those into account so that we're not falsely attributing those to a teacher,” Foerster said. “You're trying to level the field based on the kids that come into the classroom. You want to understand what impact the teacher has had, that the teacher is responsible for. Not the extraneous factors, the socio-economic factor or any other factor.”

Statistical analysis

Florida is doing that by using a statistical analysis of each student that takes into account “everything and the kitchen sink” to project that student's “expected” academic growth in a school year will be.

Foerster said the equation accounts for performance on test scores in previous years, the age of the student, attendance, class size and all sorts of other variables, everything except socio-economic status which the state expressly prohibited them from taking into account.

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