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Monday, November 24, 2014
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(mgnonline.com)

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Editorial: Jindal, White owe apology to our teachers

Last Modified: Thursday, September 05, 2013 6:05 PM

It’s no surprise that public school teachers in Southwest Louisiana fared well in the new statewide Compass teacher evaluation system.

Nine in every 10 teachers in the area scored in the two highest categories — highly effective and effective proficient — and each parish outperformed the state average in teachers ranked in the top echelon, highly effective.

Beauregard Parish led the way with 55 percent of its teachers rating highly effective, followed by Cameron Parish at 50 percent, Allen at 48 percent, Calcasieu at 45, Jeff Davis at 42 and Vernon at 38.

Ten percent or less of the teachers in all six parishes were rated in the bottom two tiers — effective emerging and ineffective.

Statewide, 32 percent of teachers were rated highly effect, 57 percent effective proficient, 8 percent effective emerging and 4 percent ineffective.

Teacher evaluations were based on principals’ classroom observations and how teachers’ students improved on standardized tests and in reaching specific learning targets.

“This is a great accomplishment for our state,’’ said state Superintendent John White. ‘‘I want to say thank you to the educators and leaders who worked so hard to make this first year of using Compass statewide so successful. The increase in focused feedback Louisiana educators received this year will pay great dividends for our students. The alignment between student progress results and the evaluation results shows the rigor with which many school and district leaders approached this process. We have changes to make, but for the first year, we should be very proud.”

That’s a different tune than what White sung a year ago. He predicted that results from the Value Added Model for teacher evaluation would resemble a bell curve with 10 percent of teachers falling into the highly effective category, 10 percent earning the label of ineffective and 80 percent ranked in the two middle rungs of effective proficient and effective emerging.

Trial runs bore White out. Less than 6 percent of fourth- through ninth-grade teachers in Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron and Jeff Davis parishes evaluated last year by the VAM system received a rating of highly effective.

That brought howls of protest from administrators and teachers, particularly considering that under the education reform package pushed by Gov. Bobby Jindal and White and approved by state lawmakers a nontenured teacher would have to rate highly effective five out of six years to attain tenure.

Coming to his senses, White urged the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to loosen the guidelines so that the highly effective status wasn’t so difficult to attain.

Still, if a teacher is rated ineffective two consecutive years, they face losing their job.

The rating system also figures in teachers’ compensation.

What these latest results indicate is the vast majority of public school teachers in Louisiana are not only professional, but more than competent. They are due an apology from the governor and White, who in touting some much-needed education reforms last year, tossed them under the bus.

• • •

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, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.

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