With students, parents, and other stakeholders increasingly disinterested in standardized testing, how can we continue to have teacher evaluations tied to test outcomes? If a student finishes a 50-minute test in 5 minutes, how is that reflective of a teacher’s performance?

Lanane:

  • A major concern of most educators is tying teacher evaluations/performance pay to ISTEP testing.
  • The State Board of Education recently approved a new A-F grading system that is instead focused on student growth:
  • The new A-F grade model will place more importance on how students improve on ISTEP from year to year, rather than just how many are able to pass. Now, test scores and student test score growth will be counted equally in all calculations, and other factors, such as graduation rates for high schools, will be filtered into the grade.1
  • There are many other factors that should be considered when evaluating a teacher other than student performance on standardized testing.
    • Per the US Department of Education: “Assessments provide critical information about student learning, but no single assessment should ever be the sole factor in making an educational decision about a student, an educator, or a school. Information from sources such as school assignments, portfolios, and projects can help measure a student’s academic performance.”2

Baule:

It is not a good indicator of teacher performance. We will still use such outcomes only if required to by the legislature. A growth model would be acceptable. The current scores for a poor test are not acceptable, but are currently required by state law.

If ISTEP is out, why are teachers still going to be evaluated on the results in their evaluations?

Snideman:

ISTEP isn’t out until 2017, so 2016 and 2017 evaluations will still have ISTEP performance as a component of the evaluation. Until the state (and school corporations) changes its evaluation metrics, student performance on exams will continue to be part of the picture.

Lanane:

  • There were a number of issues with the 2015 ISTEP exam which raised concerns regarding the use of the scores in determining teacher performance pay/teacher evaluations.
  • To address these concerns, the legislature passed SEA 200 and HEA 1003 this past session.
  • HEA 1003 makes changes to teacher evaluation procedures. The act:
    • Provides that, for a state fiscal year beginning July 1, 2015, and ending June 30, 2016, the amount that a school corporation may receive as part of a performance grant relating to test results shall be calculated using the higher of:
      • the percentage of passing scores on ISTEP program tests for the school for the 2013-2014 school year; or
      • the percentage of passing scores on ISTEP program tests for the school for the 2014-2015 school year.
    • Specifies that if a school’s performance grant is calculated using the percentage of passing ISTEP scores from the 2013-2014 school year, the grant amount may not exceed (with certain exceptions) the grant amount that the school received for the state fiscal year beginning July 1, 2014, and ending June 30, 2015.
    • Provides that the school corporation shall distribute all stipends from a performance grant to individual teachers within 20 business days of the date the department distributes the performance grant to the school corporation.
    • Provides that ISTEP program test scores or a school’s category or designation of school improvement for the 2014-2015 school year may not be used by a school corporation as part of an annual performance evaluation of a particular certificated employee unless the use of the ISTEP program test scores or a school’s category or designation of school imporvement would improve the particular teacher’s annual performance rating. (RC #26; 3rd Rdg; 48-0)
  • The laws passed this session only apply for this school year, therefore the ISTEP panel and the legislature should take this issue into consideration when developing new standards and adopting a new standardized test other than the current ISTEP.

Baule:

They are not to be evaluated based upon ISTEP+ scores this year. Indiana law currently requires that those student and school grades will be used in next year’s evaluation process. The law needs to be changed.

How are ISTEP scores figured into teachers’ evaluations? What should count in a teacher’s evaluation?

Lanane:

  • According to Indiana law, in developing a teacher evaluation model, a school may consider the following factors:
    • Test scores of students (both formative and summative).
    • Classroom presentation observations.
    • Observation of student-teacher interaction.
    • Knowledge of subject matter.
    • Dedication and effectiveness of the teacher through time and effort on task.
    • Contributions of teachers through group teacher interactivity in fulfilling the school improvement plan
    • Cooperation of the teacher with supervisors and peers.
    • Extracurricular contributions of the teacher.
    • Outside performance evaluations.
    • Compliance with school corporation rules and procedures.
    • Other items considered important by the school corporation in developing each student to the student’s maximum intellectual potential and performance.
  • The State Board of Education and the Indiana Department of Education may recommend additional factors, but may not require additional factors unlessdirected.
  • School districts are given the flexibility to create teacher evaluation models that are tailored specifically to their teachers and student population. 

Baule:

Teacher evaluations should be based upon their professional practice in the classroom and in the school. Standardized test scores are not a good indicator of performance. A standardized growth model would be a reasonable inclusion for evaluation. The current ISTEP+ scores are not.

How does it make sense to compare, for example, this year’s 3rd grade students against last year’s 3rd grade students and then use the scores to rate the teachers as effective or ineffective?

Lanane:

  • The State Board of Education recently approved a new A-F grading system that is instead focused on student growth:
  • The new A-F grade model will place more importance on how students improve on ISTEP from year to year, rather than just how many are able to pass. Now, test scores and student test score growth will be counted equally in all calculations, and other factors, such as graduation rates for high schools, will be filtered into the grade.3

Baule:

It doesn’t make any sense, but it is easy.

Would an experienced teacher want to take a position in a school with challenges such as high poverty, high ESL, high minority, and high mobility when students can’t make the leap to proficiency in one year and eligibility for any salary increase is tied to student and building performance?

Lanane:

  • This is why evaluation models need to be based on student growth – the new A-F accountability model will hopefully achieve this goal.
  • This issue also brings the teacher shortage to the forefront – we need to develop policies that provide incentives to not only attract, but retain our best and brightest teachers.

Baule:

The current trend shows that few teachers are willing to make such a move. However, the key issues seem to be the additional stress of the ISTEP+ testing and its link to school grades. It isn’t as much of an economic issue as a job satisfaction issue.

 

1 http://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/in/2016/04/15/changes-to-a-f-grading-system-move-forward- despite-equity-concerns/#.VydzAPkrJhE

2 http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/fact-sheet-testing-action-plan
3 http://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/in/2016/04/15/changes-to-a-f-grading-system-move-forward-despite-equity-concerns/#.VydzAPkrJhE