February 17, 2016

State Legislatures Attack Student Growth in Teacher Evaluation

By Bellwether

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As many 2016 state legislative sessions move into full swing, my hunch that teacher evaluation legislation would be up for debate due to the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act is proving to be true in several states.  While we can’t directly attribute causality to ESSA, the surge in activity in the current legislative session is highly suggestive.
Below are several states’ proposed bills that would notably change teacher evaluation policy:

  • Colorado: Senate Bill 16-105 would allow school districts to eliminate the use of student academic growth data in teacher evaluations and would give districts discretion to drop annual ratings for effective or highly effective teachers.
  • Florida: House Bill 903 delays the use of student growth scores in teacher and principal evaluations. Specifically, the bill would prohibit the use of statewide English and language arts and math assessments in evaluation ratings until the 2017-2018 school year.
  • Georgia: Senate Bill 364 and Senate Bill 355 both decrease the percentage of student growth scores in teachers’ evaluation ratings. Senate Bill 364 decreases the percentage from 50 percent to 30 percent. Senate Bill 355 would require that student growth scores count for no more than 10 percent in teachers’ evaluation ratings.
  • Oklahoma: Just days after ESSA became law, the Oklahoma State Board of Education voted to allow new options for how districts can measure student growth in teacher evaluations. This legislative session, HB 2265 would remove references to qualitative and quantitative components altogether and require that districts choose additional measures based on a list approved by the State Department of Education. HB 2269 would prohibit the use of value-added as a measure of student academic growth in evaluation systems.
  • Tennessee: House Bill 1453 waives the use of student growth data in teacher evaluations for two school years.

A quick scan of these proposed bills highlights one glaring commonality: the suspension, reduction, or elimination of student growth in teacher evaluation systems. Ironically, the attack on using student growth in teacher evaluation targets the heart of the teacher evaluation movement of the last five to eight years.  It’s too early to tell if proposed bills will go anywhere this session. But the mere existence of the proposals – particularly in states that have been working on performance-based teacher evaluation the longest like Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado – speaks volumes about where states may head with teacher evaluation policy now that federal requirements are gone.

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