Washington, D.C., public schools announced in June that they will not use student test scores to evaluate their teachers in the coming school year.
The move bucked the trend of school districts who are abiding by state Common Core standards and implementing the related teacher evaluation systems.
The Delaware City School District has implemented teacher evaluations in the last year that judge teachers based 50 percent on administrative evaluations and 50 percent on student growth data.
Superintendent Paul Craft said he believes value-added data, which measure student growth, is a great way to evaluate how well teachers are instructing students.
Craft said state tests don’t say everything about what teachers are doing, but they do provide a good indication of how much a student has grown in one year.
“I don’t think implementing new testing should prevent you from using this data to inform your understanding of how well teachers are doing,” he said.
“It’s not about students doing poorly or not doing poorly on a test; it’s about them growing. As long as there is improvement, the teacher is evaluated based on that.”
Students in third grade, for example, take tests in the spring and the fall. Data will show if the students improved from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.
“A teacher with low-performing students actually has a better chance of showing high growth because they have more room to grow within the year,” Craft said.
He said test scores do not drive all the decisions the district makes and teachers don’t “teach to the test,” but the tests still are useful.
“Students who perform well on tests are most likely performing well in the classroom,” he said.
According to state and Delaware school board policy, teachers who are rated “ineffective” for three years are subject to nonrenewal.
“We’re not going to fire teachers based on one year’s worth of data,” Craft said. “After three years, however, we have a larger sample size and we can see if there are any major variables.”
Craft said based on first-year evaluations, he believes non-renewal of a teacher based on test scores will be rare.
“Our students are continuing to grow more than the average student in the state of Ohio,” he said. “We allow these test scores to drive our conversations and help inform what we do or don’t do in the classroom.”