The Train Goes Careening: Ohio Teacher Evaluations & HB555

When all this teacher evaluation stuff started almost a year ago, I saw some benefits in restructuring to create more consistent expectations across the state.

The 50% Performance Pieces
50% of the evaluation is based on performance, which is also tied to the Ohio Standards for the Teaching Profession (which are also similar to the Ohio Standards for Principals). This is the OTES (Ohio Teacher Evaluation System) and OPES (Ohio Principal Evaluation System) stuff we’ve all been hearing about.

I like the OTES/OPES framework (which is also, basically, the Resident Educator framework) that allows an educator to set goals and through cycles of conferences and observations, keep striving toward those professional goals. This framework gives professional learning a focus and direction, and it allows individual educators (new, experienced, seasoned, administrative, etc!) to keep honing their craft, to become better, to truly become lifelong learners.

There is a lot of value in opening these lines of communication. It allows administrators (and depending on your school’s/union’s openness to the idea–fellow teachers, peers, coaches) to model instruction, getting them into the classrooms to become instructional leaders. It capitalizes on a teacher’s inherent desire to do what is best for students by giving teachers the opportunity to self-select areas for growth.

The OTHER 50%–The Data Piece–*Annoyed face * Wagging Finger * Wrong Direction * “Make a U-Turn Ahead”
When this restructuring began, the idea was that educators, like students, should be evaluated on multiple measures. The 50% data piece was to include value-added data when value-added data was available for the course, but the state did not dictate how much of the 50% had to be from those value-added standardized assessments. THIS WAS GOING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION because districts could, at the local level, determine what data would figure into this portion of the evaluation. State-level standardized assessments could be as little as 10% and other measures (progress monitoring data, local common assessments, local benchmark screeners, RtI data, grades, etc) could account for the other 40%. How awesome that so many data points would be considered?! This provided educators with some backing, a plethora of evidence for student growth, and it reflected what we do in education–use MULTIPLE measures to evaluate student strengths and weaknesses.

Our train was moving in a good direction.

Then, it was derailed.
There have been a lot of education issues with which I have not agreed. I am more than disagreeable to those 11th hour changes to HB555 made by Governor Kasich. Now…in a pretty quick phase-in, teachers who teach courses on the “value-added progress dimension” will have the entire 50% of the data portion of their evaluation based on those value-added scores. No multiple measures. No common assessment data. No progress monitoring, benchmarking, data over time. Just a single value-added score based on a single standardized test.

And to make matters worse, guess when the requirement that the entire 50% of teachers’ evaluations must be based on the value-added data? “On or after July 1, 2014”–just in time for brand new assessments beginning in 2014-2015 that aren’t even finished at this point. Heck, the state-selected American history and government tests don’t even have to be chosen until then (with no date for implementing those either, at this point–though, locally-created assessments start next year and operate in the interim).

I am so disheartened. If the train is barely trudging along but still moving forward, why send it careening off a cliff?

Luckily, in this day and age with so many social outlets, I can articulate my frustration to those in charge, should they choose to read it. To those individuals, I say….

I do not understand the logic in making this move. Whether you realize it or not, the message you send when you say 50% of a teacher’s entire evaluation is based on a single snapshot in time from tests that have yet to be created instead of multiple measures that give a 360 degree view of a teacher’s ability is that data actually doesn’t matter. You are saying all those other tests, tools, factors that we use to measure and guide our programming every single day don’t matter because they are not in the “value-added progress dimension.” Perhaps your desire to consolidate all of a teacher’s worth into one quantifiable score stems from your own lack of knowledge about how educators use and respond to data formally almost daily and informally almost by the minute. Collecting and responding to lots of data from lots of different methods is how teaching and learning works, and this is what should have been (and was) the strength of the new evaluation system. THAT was something I could subscribe to, figure out, and defend. We could have created high-quality common assessments, looked more closely and analyzed more intensely all our sources of data to best educate students, but you have now said all those other points don’t matter.

We’re back at status quo now as far as data is concerned. We’re back to spending all our time analyzing data from one standardized test given on one day and trying to implement instructional change that will affect that one score. We’re back to being all about that one score and teaching to that one test rather than doing what we were working toward doing–using many data points to raise the achievements of all our students.


2 thoughts on “The Train Goes Careening: Ohio Teacher Evaluations & HB555

  1. Pingback: BASA Updates for HB 555–A Cross Post « Turn On Your Brain

  2. Pingback: In which I semi-begrudgingly expound on the benefits of OTES | Turn On Your Brain

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