A new teacher evaluation system is undergoing some final tweaks as Missouri Department of Education staff members develop a proposal for possible approval by the State Board of Education next month. During their May meeting, board members heard an update on this project.
According to the update, education department staff members are making revisions based on suggestions from stakeholders. Suggestions include a need for greater clarity, providing “authentic samples of evidence for the growth guide” and reducing duplication. Some stakeholders providing feedback to the state include school district representatives, teacher certification experts and advocates of transforming education by changing the way teachers are evaluated.
In the proposed new evaluation system, each teacher would start the year with a growth plan. During the year, they would receive periodic feedback about progress. Then, at the end of the year, administrators would assign final assessment scores, sort of like students receiving scores on their final exams. Hopefully, that score would show growth over the course of the year. And. at the beginning of the next school year, the cycle would begin all over again with a new growth plan.
Administrators would evaluate teachers’ growth by a number of different measures. Some of these measures include classroom observation, analysis of lesson plans that teachers create and how well students perform on standardized tests. Evaluations based on student tests results have been controversial nationwide, because of concerns that student performance is affected by factors out of teachers’ control. Some of these factors include students’ socioeconomic status, their health and whether their parents attended college.
Missouri promised to revise the way it evaluates teacher effectiveness as part of its request for a waiver of requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The intent of the Act is to narrow achievement gaps between advantaged and disadvantaged public school students. However, the goal of 100 percent proficiency on state standardized tests by 2014 appeared to be unrealistic, and the U.S. Congress was overdue on reauthorizing NCLB. Therefore, U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan has invited states to apply for waivers, and Missouri submitted its waiver request in February among the second round of applicants.
Last month the federal government sent a letter to the state education department with questions about their application. Despite these questions, the letter praised the state’s planned teacher evaluation system. The federal government has already granted waiver requests to all of the first-round applicants and plans to respond to the second round of requests sometime in the next few weeks. As part of the waiver requests, the U.S. Department of Education directed states to choose one of two teacher evaluation options. Missouri chose Option A, which requires that teachers and principals be involved in developing the new evaluation system. Option A also requires adoption of new evaluation guidelines by the end of this school year.
Missouri’s State Board of Education heard this update on development of the new teacher evaluation system during their monthly meeting earlier this week. Board members met Tuesday, May 15, in Jefferson City.
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