Tuesday, September 10, 2013

State Superintendent Praises Low Teacher Ratings at Some Schools

Bassett Questions Harsh Evaluations

Do the highest performing schools in the state have more Highly Effective - and less Ineffective - teachers than the average? No, says State Superintendent John White.

Thursday, eighteen high-performing schools were recognized for awarding low numbers of the highest ratings to teachers. Each school ranked in the top ten percent of either student proficiency or improvement in proficiency rate on state assessments.

According to the Compass Report on teacher evaluations, statewide, over half the teachers were rated Highly Effective for student growth as measured against their Student Learning Targets. However, in these 18 schools, less than ten percent of teachers received that rating. They also rated teachers as Ineffective at over four times the state average.

Student Learning Targets (SLTs) are goals set for students by teachers and principals at the beginning of the year. Teachers are evaluated by how well their students attain those goals.

“These schools show the great results that can be achieved when educators have high expectations for the students they teach,” said State Superintendent John White. “By raising the bar for what children are expected to achieve academically, educators raised the bar for what they could achieve professionally, which is the goal of Compass.”

Educator Herb Bassett questions White's logic. According to Bassett, the ratings failed  to reward teachers in several schools for high achievements and White praises a policy of failing teachers by design. "Common sense dictates that these schools' high performance should be reflected in high ratings for their teachers. Instead, the Superintendent celebrates a tainted process where teacher ratings are much lower than student achievement warrants. The data raises red flags about the fairness and reliability of these ratings."

Joseph S. Clark Preparatory High School received dual praise for its improvement in student proficiency and stringent teacher evaluations. The school ranked in the 99th percentile for improvement in student proficiency yet gave the final rating of Ineffective to 68 percent of its teachers.

Clark Prep, along with Samuel J. Green Charter School, Arthur Ashe Charter School, and John Dibert Community School were schools praised by White. In these schools, 70, 68, 54, and 35 percent respectively, of teachers were given the rating of Ineffective on their SLTs. The state average was less than three percent.

All four schools are run by Frontline (Charter) Schools in New Orleans.

In the Compass teacher evaluation system, two components are averaged to yield a final rating. The Professional Practices Score is based on two principal observations during the year. The Student Outcomes Score is based on student achievement as measured against either SLTs or student growth targets set by LDOE's Value-added Assessment Model (VAM).

In the VAM system, teachers are ranked by a computer model, and assigned labels based on quotas set by LDOE. Within each content area, the bottom ten percent are ranked Ineffective and the top twenty percent Highly Effective. Less than a third of teachers are evaluated by the computer model.

The Compass Report calls for "alignment" of ratings by the different measures. Evaluators are being encouraged by the DOE to adjust future ratings to match the quotas set in the VAM system. This blog pointed out in our post last week that such a practice would not be in accord with Act 54.

There are stark contradictions between the state's VAM computer model results and Frontline Schools ratings. Since SLTs and VAM rankings measure student growth in different ways, the discrepancies call into question the reliability of the two measures.

At Arthur Ashe Charter School the computer model ranked 77 percent of the teachers Highly Effective and 23 percent Proficient. No VAM teacher received a lower rating. However, 54 percent of all teachers at that school were rated Ineffective on their SLTs.
Results for Samuel J. Green Charter were similar. Sixty-nine percent of the VAM teachers were ranked Highly Effective but 67 percent of all teachers were rated Ineffective on their SLTs.

These schools held up a questionable standard for the Professional Practices Scores. No principal awarded any teacher a rating of Highly Effective based on the classroom observations.

Overall, the VAM system ranked 71 percent of these teachers Highly Effective; but the SLTs yielded only seven percent Highly Effective, and by the principal observations, no teacher was Highly Effective. The disparity between the VAM rankings and the other measures show possible collusion among these principals to withhold the highest ratings from their teachers.

"If these schools truly are among the state's top performing schools, it makes no sense to put over one third of their teachers on a fast track to being fired," Bassett commented. "White chose to praise rather than condemn the evaluations of these teachers." 


Anonymous said...

Teachers, and its creator, have claimed FROM THE BEGINNING that VAM is erratic at best, and SLT's are a sham easily manipulated by teachers. There has been a concerted effort by DoE to "warn" principals their teacher evaluations should match VAM scores, and similarly the SLT's should fall in line, too. White can't have it both ways...either VAM/SLTs are accurate and evals are inaccurate, or evals are accurate and VAM is inaccurate. To anyone with a minuscule amount of logical thinking, White looks like a fool for trying to say stringent teacher evals motivates student performance when those evals are obviously not aligned with what the students are learning. Instead of praising those principals that are obviously not able to identify/observe good teaching...he should be chastising them for being out of touch with what good teaching actually is and can't label it when they see it. Don't get me wrong, I get that he is trying to say high standards for teachers correlates to high achievement of students...but it is painfully obvious using his logic that he has no clue what good teaching is if VAM/SLT is as accurate of science as he has claimed it to be.

Anonymous said...

when we had to write our SLTs we had lots of fast, useless inservice training that really only made us more confused. Some principals wrote SLTs that everyone was to use. Others let teachers write their own. Most of the teachers I know were totally lost writing them and set percentages for improvement that were just a wild guess or they just used the percentages on the sample we got to see. I would hate to think that some teachers wrote their expectations so low that students met them with ease while some other poor teacher did his/her best but set the percentages so high that they shot themselves in the foot.

Anonymous said...

Everyone was confused on the SLT process because the trainers from the state were awful. We spent 75% of the time being told how to have a conversation with a teacher (something administrators do every day) and only 25% on the actual COMPASS process.

Anonymous said...

Oh. My.

Our local paper, The Advertiser, printed this article titled: NHA charter school recognized for student achievement. Sept 5, 2013.

"Inspire Charter Academy in Baton Rouge was recognized today for setting high standards for student learning.

"The school is operated by National Heritage Academies, which has applied to open at least one charter school in Lafayette Parish. NHA’s application is pending with the Lafayette Parish School Board.

The Louisiana Department of Education honored 20 schools for student progress in the Compass evaluation results that were released on Tuesday.

“Each of the schools on the list was in the state’s top 10 percent for student improvement or overall achievement and at the same time had 20 percent fewer of its teachers score at the ‘highly effective’ level on the student learning target element of the Compass process,” state officials said in a news release.

State Education Superintendent John White said in the statement that the schools “show the great results that can be achieved when educators have high expectations for the students they teach.”

No Acadiana schools were on the list."

Now here's the REAL story: NHA has an application before the Lafayette parish school board and BESE for a Type 1 and/or Type 2 charter. NHA's 'recognition-winning' charter in Baton Rouge is an F school. It was an F school in 2010-11 when it opened, with 36.6% students scoring at or above grade level. It remains, an F school for the 2011-12 school year with 34% English 38% Math proficiency (average 36). And by the way, where are the grades for 2012-13?

Why would Lafayette want a failing school to open a charter in our B-rated parish? Why would BESE inflict a failed charter on yet another school district?

Anonymous said...

I'm tired of fighting the kids, getting them to stretch themselves is not the easiest task in the world. I'm tired of fighting the parents, many of them believe every word their kid tells them despite knowing that even good kids will lie to not get into trouble. I'm tired of fighting society, teach kids morals...but don't you dare mention anything that might offend conservative or liberal families. There was a time when I at least felt I was supported by other educators, but our DoE has waged war on the troops with a "teachers are lazy" mentality. Our legislators joined this in 2012 and really wore us out...thank GOD they seemed to come back to our side in 2013 (with the exception of a few idiotic senators). I'm tired of winning court cases on things we shouldn't be in court for in the first place. I'm tired of being forced to teach one thing while press releases say they are not forcing anyone to teach anything. I'm tired of an idiot superintendent of ed, BESE, and governor that have done everything possible to destroy the morale of teachers in the trenches. I was labeled "highly effective" by VAM and "effective proficient" by my principal last year...and I can't wait to get out of this circus called LA education soon enough. Retirement seemed not too far away two years ago, but now the road seems so much longer...if I feel this way in my insulated condition, how must the lower 80% feel? When I go, the door won't hit me where the good Lord split me...but that is exactly what they can kiss when I go!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, just venting...

Anonymous said...

Hey...I got one more thing to say here...I'm "highly effective" using VAM and SLTs, and I told my principal to Compass evaluate me one day when I had a movie playing in my room. He said, and I quote, "I can't Compass this...there is no student interaction, creative teaching, formative/summative assessments, etc." I said, "I don't care. My VAM will bail me out." He asked to come back another day to Compass me. The reason I said this is because to get the scores I get, I don't teach the way Compass requires...maybe what John White is too dumb to see is, if principal's are evaluating teachers accurately, that the Compass evaluations are a farce when it comes to student production in VAM/SLT. Veteran teachers have been telling them this one, too, since Compass was required.

Anonymous said...

So, a teacher sets their SLTs too high, an unattainable level of high, and puts their neck on a chopping block for their final principal evaluation....and this apparently creates a "sense of urgency" among the teachers that translates to higher VAM scores. Okay...but why can't these "professionals" create an SLT level that correlates to VAM? How professional are they if they can't predict with some level of accuracy how much their kids should grow? Failing SLTs but sailing through VAM manufactures a new problem that these teachers don't have a clue what their kids are supposed to be learning.

Anonymous said...

OMG...welcome to teaching, 2013...do this you haven't been doing, don't do that what you have been doing (no matter how great your VAM is)......teach this way no matter the limitations (student centered), test that way no matter what limitations you've had to overcome (test-maker centered)...get together and determine the best way to raise test scores (if they give you time to actually come up with a plan), but make sure it is done according to this format (that limits the way you think would work)...schools are running low on technology, but our society is technology driven...there will come a point when good teachers/teaching candidates will simply say, "Take this job and shove it!"

Julia said...

Correction- Those schools (Clark, Ashe, etc.) are part of the Firstline, not Frontline.

Julia said...

Also, I can attest to the fact that SLT's are easily manipulated by teachers. They give a horribly difficult pre-test, then have their students memorize answers for the post-test so that their SLTs come out to 100% attainment. I've seen some teachers even put the answers for the post-test (final) on the board. COMPASS is a complete sham.