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Teacher evaluation reform spreading across the nation

Oklahoma is not the first state to adopt a teacher evaluation system based in part on student test results, but is part of a growing trend across states and schools to move to the growth or value added evaluation models.
BY MEGAN ROLLAND Published: December 25, 2011

Oklahoma isn't the only state rushing to adopt a new high-stakes evaluation system that promises to identify the best teachers, the worst teachers and everyone in between.

In the past three years, 32 states have made changes to teacher evaluation system, according to a report from the National Council on Teacher Quality released in October.

The new systems differ, each relying on some combination of student performance data and principal observations to score a teacher's ability in the classroom.

Oklahoma's new teacher evaluation system was spurred forward — like those in many states — by the competition for federal funding in the Obama administration's Race to the Top grants.

Senate Bill 2033 pledged that Oklahoma would have a teacher evaluation system based 50 percent on measurable subjective observations and 50 percent on measurable objective student performance data.

And this month, the state Education Board voted to approve three evaluation models to be piloted for the qualitative evaluations.

Value-added model

On the quantitative side, the board adopted a value-added model that will account for 35 percent of a teacher's evaluation based on how a student performs on standardized tests compared to how that student is expected to perform on the test given details about the student's life and past performance.

The remaining 15 percent of objective data has yet to be determined by the board.

According to the teacher quality study, 23 states and the District of Columbia now require teacher evaluations to be based on student learning as shown through student growth or value-added data.

Oklahoma doesn't have the ability to tie a student's test score to a specific teacher.

And calculating an “expected” test score for every student in the state before state exams are administered every year is a complex data analysis that requires a level of detail that Oklahoma has never collected.

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