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Teacher Evaluations

by Daniela Fairchild, in "The Education Gadfly". A Bulletin of Weekly News and Analysis from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Volume 11, Number 19. May 19, 2011.

In 2009-2010, many states passed RTT [1]-related legislation allowing for the linkage of student achievement to teacher evaluations. But these reforms often fell short of ensuring or mandating such evaluations. Legislation enacted thus far in 2011 has gone further by requiring student achievement gains to matter for teacher (and, in some cases, principal and superintendent) evaluations. A few states have also begun to tackle performance-based pay.

  • Again from Indiana, SB 0001 requires districts to figure student-achievement gains when creating new teacher evaluations. It also requires that educators’ performance, not just their seniority, factor into decisions about salary increases.
  • Idaho’s Students Come First Package (SB 1110) ties 50 percent of teacher, principal, and superintendent evaluations to student achievement (as well as offers a performance-pay bonus to the most effective teachers).
  • Illinois’s SB 7 mandates that teacher evaluations be tied to student test scores.
  • Wyoming’s SF 146 ties evaluations—in part—to student achievement ; while SF 70 in the same state sets out to define student achievement, creating a statewide accountability system to align with the definition.
  • Out of Florida, the Student Success Act (SB 736) counts student growth as 50 percent of teacher evaluations and requires districts to let-go low performers.
  • Next door, Georgia’s SB 184 awaits governor signature. The bill would end LIFO (and could equally fit in the CBA-bucket above) and would evaluate teachers based on performance—though the Peach State will leave the definition of that word up to districts.
  • Other states, like Texas, Utah, Washington, and New Jersey, have teacher-evaluation bills on the docket in one or more legislative house.
  • Along with these new initiatives, many states are beginning to flesh out teacher-evaluation systems set up through 2010 legislation (mostly due to RTTT, but sometimes not). Recently, states like Tennessee, Colorado, Ohio, and Rhode Island released blueprints, recommendations, and plans of attack for crafting their states’ evaluation systems. And just this week, the New York Regents approved the state’s new eval plan.

[1] Race to the Top