As discussed in a previous blog, “Educators ‘Score’ Evaluation Tactics Low,” New York state educators, administrators, and government officials are locking horns over the implementation of teacher evaluation systems that include student assessment results. The latest wave of activity featured a statement by state governor Andrew Cuomo that districts must adopt new evaluation systems or risk losing state funding (for the full Wall Street Journal article see http://on.wsj.com/nyedeval). Cuomo gave unions and the state education department 30 days to settle the lawsuit that was filed in efforts to delay the implementation of evaluation systems that incorporate student test results. He is in part motivated by the potential loss of “Race to the Top” funding that required that such a system be adopted.
Teachers are resistant to the speed at which these systems are being implemented, as evidenced by the petition mentioned in the previously noted blog post, and the lawsuit mentioned in the Wall Street Journal article. I worry about the “READY, FIRE, AIM” approach to implementing these systems as states and districts rush to meet federal guidelines, or hurry to have a system in place as they adopt common core standards and move to a new set of large-scale assessments. How will we evaluate the effectiveness of teachers of special populations (special educators, English Language Learners, etc.)? What system will prove most effective in evaluating educators who do not teach subjects that are tested in state systems? And how can one measure growth from year-to-year if the subject was untested the year before, or if the state’s scoring system is not on a vertical scale?
We must carefully consider the implications of the answers to these questions to ensure that we have soundly developed systems, being used in similar ways throughout the country so that an effective educator in one district or state shares sameness with an effective educator in another.