Although the final decisions will be up to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, steps were taken this week to make Louisiana’s teacher evaluation system fairer and more accurate. The biggest of these was aimed at the controversial Value Added Model of teacher evaluation.
A panel reviewing evaluations recommended suspending the consequences associated with the Value Added Model for another year, and giving principals much more leeway over the outcomes of teacher evaluations.
The recommendations by the Act 240 Subcommittee (the official name of the panel) will be considered by BESE at its March 6 meeting. Here is the report that BESE will have at that meeting.
The VAM suggestion came from State Rep. Frank Hoffman (R-West Monroe), who has supported VAM in the past. He said that significant problems with the model convinced him that it should be shelved for the time being.
An LFT spokesperson at the meeting endorsed Rep. Hoffman’s proposal. “Teachers oppose the Value Added model,” said Public Relations Director Les Landon. “They tell us that it is not a fair and accurate evaluation, that it does not help them improve their teaching methods, and that it is used to unfairly label teachers, schools and entire districts as failures.”
Teachers responding to an LFT survey on proposed changes to evaluations overwhelmingly agreed that VAM should be suspended. If VAM is included in evaluations, they concluded, it should not override decisions of school leaders, and it should be only one of multiple measures of teacher effectiveness. See the complete results of the LFT survey here.
A consortium of principals, teacher organizations and school boards submitted another set of recommendations for changes to the teacher evaluation process. Some of those were amended into the document approved by the panel.
Among the recommendations that will go before BESE are these:
- For all teachers, an “Ineffective” score on either half of the evaluation will no longer override other measures of the principal’s judgment.
- The principal will have the option, with the consent of the teacher, to complete only the formal observation, if the teacher scores “Effective: Proficient” or “Highly Effective” on the formal observation. This will not apply to teachers with less than three years’ experience.
- School leaders at alternative, juvenile, K-2 and special schools will have alternate frameworks and recommended goals, with Department-provided guidance.
- A workgroup of principals and teachers will be convened to consider best practices for making the observation process as efficient and effective as possible.
The panel recommended that the Department revise Bulletin 130 to plainly state that Student Learning Targets are to be determined by teachers in collaboration with their principals, in accord with district guidelines. That specific recommendation is not reflected in the official document.
The document going to BESE stresses that teacher evaluations should be determined using “multiple measures,” but does not spell out what those might be. LFT will seek clarification on these and other issues when BESE takes up the recommendations.