Teacher and Principal Evaluation Policy
The state should require instructional effectiveness to be the determinative criterion of any teacher evaluation. The bar for this goal was raised in 2017.
Impact of Student Growth: Although recent legislation in Arkansas still requires the rules to "recognize that evidence of student growth is a significant part of the Teacher Excellence and Support System" and "ensure that student growth is analyzed at every phase of the evaluation system to illustrate teacher effectiveness," it appears Arkansas' policy does not necessarily require the inclusion of objective student growth measures in its teacher evaluations. Specifically, Arkansas requires the use of data as one of the multiple sources of evidence of a teacher's professional practice. However, data are defined as "teacher performance data, student performance data, or overall school performance data...[and] may include multiple measures of student growth, school quality, or student success."
State's Role in Evaluation System: Arkansas districts must implement evaluation systems using the Teacher Excellence and Support System (TESS) as a blueprint.
2016 Handbook: http://www.arkansased.gov/public/userfiles/HR_and_Educator_Effectiveness/TESS/Handbook%20Jan%202016.pdf HB 1424 (2017)
Require instructional effectiveness to be a determinative criterion of any teacher evaluation.
Arkansas should require that objective evidence of student growth be included in a teacher's evaluation rating, and that it plays a profound role in a teacher's overall evaluation rating. Specifically, a teacher should not be able to earn an overall rating of effective if he or she is rated less-than-effective at increasing student growth.
Arkansas recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state also provided additional information indicating that although student growth measures are no longer a standalone component in teacher evaluation, such measures may be considered as part of each of the domains that must be included in a teacher's overall evaluation rating.
Arkansas further indicated that it requires schools to use its adopted framework for teaching or an instrument that is substantially similar by meeting federal/state requirements and state board approval. Section 5.04 - 5.05 of the Educator Support and Development Rules will be placed on the State Board of Education regularly meeting schedule.
In a follow-up response, Arkansas reiterated that its Framework for Teaching has evidence (data, observations, and artifacts) of student growth measures embedded in the evaluation process. The state provides individualized student assessment data for tested content areas to districts and schools through the Student GPS Dashboard.
7A: Measures of Student Growth
Many factors should be considered in formally evaluating a teacher; however, nothing is more important than effectiveness in the classroom. Value-added models are an important tool for measuring student achievement and school effectiveness. These models have the ability to measure individual students' learning gains, controlling for students' previous knowledge and background characteristics. While some research suggests value-added models are subject to bias and statistical limitations, rich data and strong controls can eliminate error and bias. In the area of teacher quality, examining student growth offers a fairer and potentially more meaningful way to evaluate a teacher's effectiveness than other methods schools use.
Unfortunately, districts have used many evaluation instruments, including some mandated by states, which are structured so that teachers can earn a satisfactory rating without any evidence that they are sufficiently advancing student learning in the classroom. Teacher evaluation instruments should include factors that combine both human judgment and objective measures of student learning.