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More Teachers See Pay, Tenure Tied to Student Gains

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More teachers are seeing their incomes and performance reviews tied to student test scores, a new national report shows.

In 35 states and the District of Columbia, student achievement is a significant factor in teacher evaluations, the National Council on Teacher Quality finds. Its report, “Connect the Dots: Using evaluations of teacher effectiveness to inform policy and practice,” is part of an ongoing annual series that looks at the teacher evaluation landscape.

Since 2009 states have substantially overhauled the rules that govern teacher assessment, riding a wave of accountability that has been championed by so-called education reformers. NCTQ is viewed as falling into the education reform camp.

While in 2009 NCTQ found that no states factored student growth into teacher tenure decisions, 19 states now do as of last month. Five years ago, four states made student growth a “preponderant” factor in teacher evaluations. That’s now the case in 20 states.

But while the report applauds the steady adoption of student growth models in teacher personnel decisions, it takes a sour view on the minimal effort made to apply accountability measures to the institutions where teachers are taught. NCTQ finds that eight states—Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee—have adopted policies that rate teacher academies based on the student performance of its graduates.

The authors also were critical of the resistance by many states to tie teacher evaluations directly to salaries. The report finds that while 10 states are exploring that practice, few states have put such laws on the books outright. Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Louisiana, Utah and the District of Columbia Public Schools system are the only agencies basing teacher salary on performance.

The report also cautioned against teacher evaluation models that measure the success of a school by rating the performance of a few teachers. In some districts, teachers of students who don’t take standardized tests are nonetheless given student growth ratings based on the performance of other teachers whose students are issued such tests. The report notes, “While states may see a place for collective responsibility for school performance in teacher evaluations, it cannot be a substitute for individual measures of performance applied only to those teachers without direct classroom measures.”

NCTQ cites research—like a series of reports produced by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s MET Project—that argues in support of using multiple approaches to measure teacher effectiveness. Other teacher evaluation models viewed upon favorably by the Gates reports include classroom assessment, video analysis of teacher lessons and student reviews of their instructors.

For a deeper look at the report’s findings, read the press coverage below as it comes in.

The Huffington Post: “National Council on Teacher Quality attributed the rapid pace of change to the Race to the Top, the federal government competition that had recession-addled states vie for money in exchange for implementing education reforms, such as teacher evaluations.”

The Statesman Journal: “‘Our concern is that we’re not just measuring teachers just for the sake of measuring teachers,’ said Sandi Jacobs, vice president for the National Council on Teacher Quality. ‘What are you going to do with that information?’”

Diverse Issues in Higher Education: “Timothy F.C. Knowles, director of the Urban Education Institute at the University of Chicago, said the number of such states should be higher.

“’One clear message in the NCTQ report is that far too few states plan to use teacher evaluation data to shed light on the quality of the teacher preparation pipeline,’ Knowles said. ‘This is a huge missed opportunity to hold teacher preparation institutions accountable for the quality of people they deliver to the American school house.’”