Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Bottom line, TEA does not want real accountability for student outcomes.

From TN Edu-Independent:

I have a little value-add, pun intended, to this piece, but it is good on its own:

Teacher Dismissals Under New Evaluation Systems by Russ Whitehurst and Katharine Lindquist at Brookings (Brown Center).

Referring to new teacher evaluation systems in states:
"...these evaluation systems are strikingly better than what they replaced: slapdash approaches involving a couple of classroom visits by a building principal for some teachers in some years that resulted in virtually all teachers being classified as high performing."

I agree. The new teacher eval systems in place in many states, including TN with TEAM, are a big improvement over what we had previously.

Regarding the effectiveness of these new eval systems:
"Our report concluded that, in general, the evaluation systems we examined do a decent job of distinguishing teachers based on characteristics of classroom performance that predict how teachers will perform in subsequent years"

I really think TEA's actions represent a deeper values fight as I've written in a previous post.

What I think TEA is really after is getting rid of any sort of professional performance management system of teachers. Value add is the angle by which they're trying to bring down the entire credibility of the TEAM teacher evaluation system (this playbook is playing out in other states as well).

If they're able to throw out the value add component, it's easy to throw out the rest of the teacher eval model or render it useless.  It'd be back to the days of old: "slapdash approaches involving a couple of classroom visits by a building principal"...

Read: no real accountability for student outcomes.

Whitehurst and his team are actually finding the value added component of the new eval systems is not the most problematic. It's the more subjective, qualitative teacher observation component:

"At the same time, we identified flaws in the evaluation systems that need correction.  The most troublesome of these is a strong bias in classroom observations that leads to teachers who are assigned more able students receiving better observation scores.  The classroom observation systems capture not only what the teacher is doing, but also how students are responding.  This makes the teacher’s classroom performance look better to an observer when the teacher has academically well-prepared students than when she doesn’t."
I think there are legitimate concerns about school wide value added components being derived for non-tested subjects (subjects like PE, music, art). Yet TN's TEAM system has worked to develop alternate value added models for some of these subjects. So far they've developed one for Fine Arts and World Languages, with PE in the works.

My point is the state seems to be proactive in working on this concern. Contrast that with the lawsuit happy TEA, who hasn't mentioned a single thing about fidelity of classroom observations (being completed by teachers and principals themselves, often TEA members) or proposed alternate solutions to value added measures in non-tested subjects.

"The bias in classroom observation systems that derives from some teachers being assigned much more able students than other teachers is very important to the overall performance of the teacher evaluation system.  One of the consequences of it not being addressed is that teachers who understand how the system works and value high evaluation scores will do their best to be assigned to schools with high ability students, and within schools will do their best to get assigned the best students."

My point is this: I don't see a "solutions oriented" approach from TEA in their public actions. If they don't like the current eval model with value added (which they helped construct and signed on to) - then what's a legitimate proposed alternative?

I would say it needs to have student test data in there, to act as a check and balance against the qualitative observation side - so that there are independent measures of student growth and achievement in the model to either confirm or deny what the teacher's observation scores are saying.

If I saw any action from TEA around fidelity for the qualitative observation component, I'd have more confidence that they really believe in the value of a teacher performance management system and accountability for student learning outcomes.

It's troubling that the observation component of teachers for an evaluation system is resulting in some of the greatest disconnects of teacher scores vs. the actual skill of that teacher.

From where I'm sitting, I don't believe TEA leadership a value of accountability - they would rather not have a performance management system for teachers.  With no accountability for the adults in education, that's not going to fare well for students and their learning.

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