State superintendent of Education John White. (Donna Price / American Press)
Last Modified: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 8:59 PM
Contemplate this scenario: The CEO of the company you work for decides to implement an employee evaluation system in which only about 10 percent of the total employees will receive annually the highest level of evaluation possible. Job security and some employee compensation is based on that rating system.
Do you think that’s fair? Neither do we.
Yet that is the prospect that public school teachers in Louisiana face with the fledgling value-added model rating system.
Amazingly, state Superintendent of Education John White defends the system.
The rating system for teachers provides four levels: highly effective, effective proficient, effective emerging and ineffective.
For value-added teachers, the system uses a bell curve that projects that about 10 percent of the teachers in the state will earn the highly effective status in a given year; 80 percent will earn the effective proficient and effective emerging ratings; and 10 percent will be labeled as ineffective.
Teachers in grades 3-8 who teach core subjects, as well as high school Algebra I and geometry teachers, will be evaluated under the value-added model.
This bell curve will make up 50 percent of their total evaluation score.
A rating system that has either predictable results or outcomes has not 1 ounce of credibility. How can an evaluation system that projects the end numbers be taken seriously?
Additional statistics expose other flaws in the evaluation system.
Less than 6 percent of the fourth- through ninth-grade teachers in Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron and Jeff Davis parishes evaluated by the VAM system received a highly effective rating last year.
Traditionally, those four school districts have been ranked in the top 25 percent of all districts in the state. In fact, Jeff Davis Parish, where only 3.06 percent of the evaluated teachers were rated highly effective, has routinely ranked in the top eight districts in the state.
Low-performing school districts have, on average, a higher percentage of highly effective-rated teachers than high-performing school districts.
The numbers don’t jibe with reality.
‘‘It isn’t like if you achieve this, then you will get this rating. It’s where you stand in the overall state rank,’’ said Jeff Davis Parish Superintendent David Clayton. ‘‘What is the concrete standard for teachers?’’
Under the VAM system, those standards are nebulous at best.
Additionally, to earn tenure, a nontenured teacher must receive a highly effective rating for five out of six years. Based on trials, that appears to be simply unattainable for most teachers.
In 2009-2010, 715 teachers in the trial received a highly effective rating. In 2010-2011, only 277 of those teachers maintained the highly effective rating. And last year, that number fell to 149.
Under this new system, the rating system factors into teachers’ compensation.
White is correct when he says the former tenure status was too easily attained. But the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction.
If White and Gov. Bobby Jindal wanted to abolish tenure, they should have had the political courage to accomplish it through legislation, not through this sham of an evaluation.
We submit that any evaluation system that has per-conceived or intended results is not only unprofessional, it borders on immoral.
Such evaluations challenge the very issue of fairness and the motives of White, Jindal and the state Department of Education.
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.
Posted By: K Teacher On: 10/9/2012
Title: Dearest Kyle
I also worked in the corporate world. In addition, my pay was based on 100% commission. Of course, I received bonuses due the business I brought in for my company. I made more money in "your world" than I now make as a National Board Certified Teacher.
My decision to enter the PROFESSION of educating children was based on the realization that I wanted to make a REAL difference in the life I was given. I then decided to get additional degrees & certifications to become a teacher.
Personally, I have no problem with education reform. In fact, I welcome it (as MOST educators do). The issue I DO have a problem with is that our state's newest "evaluation" program is FLAWED. In addition, if the teachers' evaluation was based on showing the students' academic growth of a year (OR MORE)
I guarantee educators would back it 100%.
Unfortunately, this is not the system that our state has come up with. A simple pre-test/post-test per grade level is just one example of an appropriate way to evaluate a teacher's impact on his or her students' growth.
If Governor Jindal was truly interested in "rewarding the great teachers", he would have taken the time to come up with such a system.
In my opinion, that was a calculated choice. If he HAD implemented such an evaluation, he would not be able to pay back a favor to ALEC (they wrote "Jindal's" education reform). Now, of course, he tweaked it a bit. ALEC played a huge role in the "fast &furious" manner in which Jindal implemented his reform at such speed.
Just for the record, I am a conservative republican...and drank the "Jindal Kool-Aid" twice
Posted By: VIckie Ramsey On: 10/2/2012
Title: VIckie Ramsey - 5th Grade Teacher
The man sitting behind the desk in this picture has no clue of what teachers are going through. For one, he was not in the classroom long enough to even get the job he has, and he is too young to begin with . I think he needs to climb back in the classroom with all the others coming up with more work for us to do, but of course he has less work. They need to be a classroom teacher for a week and do all the work required to do. The sad thing, they have taken the joy from teachers, our creativity by dictating what we do, and will soon be losing great teachers, and have bozos teaching our children. It is a shame but, they did it, and the consequences will be on them, not us. So sit behind your desk and dictate, and watch where your valuable teachers go!
Posted By: Suzanne Abney On: 9/27/2012
Title: We Live in the Real World
If anyone lives in the "Real World" it's a teacher. We see more than the corporate world would ever dream of seeing, yet they are quick to tell teachers how to do their jobs. So a teacher is more than a "driver of performance". We do not train animals to perform, we teach children and there is a lot more to that then a test score. Question to you Kyle, "Are you the only one in control of your outcomes?" Teachers are not. There are only 2 grade levels (4 & 8) and 2 subjects (ELA & Math) where if a child is not successful on the LEAP they are retained or placed in a Summer School and then retested. So for other grades & subjects there are many students who do not really try because their is NO ACCOUNTABILITY for the student. Please tell me how if this is 50% of the teacher's evaluation it is a fair representation of what the teacher is doing. Also, if you do well in your observation yet your test score rating is low, the test score rating out weighs everything. Oh and let us not forget those teachers outside of this grade levels and subjects where the evaluation process is not based on the same type of information. I doubt very seriously Kyle would sit back and allow himself to be evaluated differently then the guy down the hallway or on something that was not in his total control.
Thank you for writing this article. It's what all teachers having been saying from the beginning.
Posted By: Destinyc On: 9/26/2012
Title: Reality meets real world
I've worked in the corporate and education realms for about ten years each. They are not the same at all. And the more that people try to apply corporate concepts to education, the more education fails. Consider a teacher a manager-because she is. She must manage time, people, resources, finances, paperwork, and evaluations of the people she manages and of coworkers. She will only be compensated for the work she does in nine months for 10 eight hour days per pay period. Any evaluations, paperwork, preparation, or work done outside of these months or hours will not be compensated. She will be docked for sick time and personal days--even if a day is taken away from her "specified management area" to compete evaluations, paperwork, preparation or other work because she cannot possibly fulfill all duties and teach every day--because the system does not value her professional decision to focus on the needs of her employees. She does not maintain the same employees from year to year if she is successful. She only maintains employees if they--but really she--fail. The goals that I set this year are based only on the students I have right now that I have taught for two months. I'm just learning their capabilities. My goal is due in two days. And the magic 10% goal is not the same across the board for every teacher...it limits the total possible number of teachers in the state who can possibly achieve this level to 10% of all teachers in the state. So....even if I exceeded my goal by 10%, others could get the raise and I could not...it all just depends really...on many factors that have little to do with me and ate completely variable between (and even during) evaluation periods.
Posted By: Belle On: 9/26/2012
Title: what about the human side?
Who will evaluate the Teacher who shows compassion, understanding, and yes love to these children. Who will evaluate the value of a pat on the back or a smile. Who will judge recognizing a childs birthday or special achievment. Who will evaluate a teacher telling a joke to ease student tensions and anxiety. Teachers are not working with robots. God bless all the people willing to work with that pre teen whose own parents can't stand. Teachers are asked too much and these new stressful formulas will not improve education. Give them teacher aides, give them more psychologists to work with thier mentally ill children. Give them Parents who are required to be at school 20 hours per year to HELP these failing institutions. Limit class size to 18! Not 33! Give the students more things to love about school, sports, drama, art, dance, clubs and free time to visit with thier friends. Evey moment is crammed with test prep! If you were a kid you might Stop working under the conditions we are creating. Give them beautiful courtyards and windows that open on a cool day. Great tasting food. Clean restrooms. Why don't we start where the problem is rather than making the only people willing to work in these harsh conditions the enemy. Real World Go Sub at any failing school for 2 weeks then state your case. All teachers have my support even the ones who no one likes! Children are not products.
Posted By: Jay On: 9/26/2012
Title: Kyle's "clear goals"
Having "clear goals" for my performance would be wonderful! I've asked for the growth goals for my students since the beginning of the school year. Neither my administrators nor school board personnel can tell me. When I emailed the value-added "team" at the state department requesting these goals, I was told that THEY couldn't tell me until AFTER my students took the LEAP test. After???
So Kyle, let me rate YOUR productivity. You keep doing what you're doing. When you've finished at the end of the year, I'll calculate your productivity numbers and plug them into a complex formula that no human can solve. Only then will I tell you my magic goal for you and if you met it or not.
Teachers, if anyone has any further info on getting the student growth goals used to calculate our VAM scores, PLEASE share! My VAM jumped several points this past year with very limited changes in the curriculum. I calculated two year's worth of student growth and compared. The differences were quite small, but they had a big impact on my "effectiveness."
Posted By: Kathleen Deshotel On: 9/26/2012
Title: What a travesty!
Here is another rung in the ladder to dismantle public education. An evaluation in which an individual has little or no chance of attaining excellence will certainly send younger teachers off to find other professions and older teachers to count their days until retirement. An evaluation should be a tool for encouragement rather than discouragement at best and destruction at worst. There was much good in Louisiana education, and it seems that we have opted to destroy everything rather than fix the parts that were broken. What are they thinking?! Is this about imposing power or about enhancing a child's life and enlightenment through education?
Posted By: john boy On: 9/26/2012
Title: kyle is clueless
Kyle. In the business world you FIRE BAD EMPLOYEES. Teachers can't "fire" uncooperative students. Teachers have no power to do anything to intentional non-learners these days. So this isn't a valid comparison. Teachers are only 1/3 the equation. The parents and students make up the other 2/3 yet they have ZERO accountability in this. How about we fine parents $25 when their kid fails a test? How about a $100 fine when the student gets in trouble at school? THEN we'd see change. All this new system will do is punish good teachers and drive the next generation of teachers into other fields.
Posted By: Zach On: 9/26/2012
Title: Most teachers don't use this grading scale
What may work in the business world doesn't always work for everything else. I don't see how it's fair that even if all the teachers in the state work at a high level that 10% will still fail no matter what. This doesn't work in classes with grades. I never had this type of grading scale in K-12 and in my college years I never had a professor use this type of grading scale. In fact I had more than one professor say how much they do not like this scale. In today's world it is very difficult just to become a teacher. College students in education go through a lot and have to deal with a lot of crap just to graduate. The process to be certified to be a teacher helps weed out most bad teachers. They don't do it for the money or incentives like that like they do in the business world, they do it because they have a passion for teaching otherwise they would not take the time and effort to become a certified teacher. And then the stress involved with teaching usually weeds out any bad ones that make it through being certified because once you start teaching if you don't have a passion for it you won't stay in it long. If the state wants to revise things fine but don't let a dictator strong arm everyone and ruin public education. Let the teachers be involved in the process as well. I'm willing to bet that in the next several years there will be a shortage of teachers in the state or even if not the quality of education will be less because a lot of good teachers will not want to teach here.
Posted By: Glenn Gordon On: 9/26/2012
Title: School is not the real world Kyle
Kyle (above) said that this how he is rated in the "real world"....Well, I too was rated this way in the corporate world before becoming a teacher. Here is why he is wrong. When I was rated this way, I was 100% responsible for all inputs into my product line. There was no part of my evaluation that was not in my hands. In education this is not true. We have these students less than 1/3 of their day. We have no control over any aspect of their lives other than the 1 hour a day we see them. Holding someone 100% responsible for a child's education ignores the reality of real life. Or, as Kyle said..."the Real world"...Absent parents, drug addiction, alcohol abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and homelessness are all problems that my "products" (my students) have had in the time I have been teaching these young people. I invite Kyle to try teaching for a few years or better yet....let me have access to his inputs and after I screw them up really well....he can see how his evaluations look.
Posted By: Kyle On: 9/26/2012
Title: Welcome To The Real World
There are no new concepts here. This sort of system is how major corporations manage thier employee evaluations. The objective is to reward high performers and weed out under performers. I have worked under this sort of system for 20 years, evaluating staff and being evaluated by my management. My salary and bonus calculations are closely tied to this system. It drives performance! The key to the process is setting clear goals in the beginning of each year and meeting or exceeding (the 10%) those goals. It's usualy those who do not set or strive to meet thier goals that are the complainers about the system.
Posted By: Anne Farrar On: 9/26/2012
Title: Thank you!
As a teacher, I'm so relieved to see that someone other than teachers gets the unfairness of the system. John White doesn't even understand that the scores the teachers worry about are not the levels students achieve on the iLEAP/LEAP tests. It's about the scaled scores. I so appreciate the support for teachers who stood against this system in Baton Rouge last spring. Thank you SO much!