The state should require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
Georgia does not require that objective evidence of student learning be the preponderant criterion of its teacher evaluations.
The state's policy requires that teacher evaluations consider the teacher's role "in meeting the school's student achievement goals, including the academic gains of students assigned to the teacher," in addition to considering other factors such as interpersonal skills and professional development. Teachers are evaluated through classroom observations along with documentation of student achievement gains. The state policy indicates that the academic gains should be measured by a "wide range of student achievement assessments" including state assessments.
Further, Georgia's newly implemented evaluation system, CLASS Keys, includes a student achievement strand as one of five equally weighted evaluation strands. Each strand must be rated "emerging" at a minimum for a satisfactory annual score. If any one of the five strands, including the student achievement strand, is "not evident" on the summative annual teacher evaluation, then the annual evaluation is unsatisfactory overall. However, it does not appear that the state requires objective evidence of student learning in order to satisfy the student achievement strand.
As part of its CLASS Keys system, Georgia has articulated the following multiple rating categories: not evident, emerging, proficient and exemplary.
Finally, although Georgia's winning bid for Race to the Top funds includes a significant focus on teacher evaluation, only the 29 districts that have signed on to Georgia's proposal are required to use the newly developed Teacher Effectiveness Measure (TEM), which bases 50 percent of evaluations on value-added student performance and 10 percent on measures related to closing achievement gaps. This participation represents just 41 percent of the state's public school students.
Georgia Code 20-2-210 CLASS Keys http://gadoe.org/tss_teacher.aspx
Require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
Although Georgia's new evaluation system is a step in the right direction, it falls short by failing to require that objective evidence of student learning be the most significant criterion. The state should either require a common evaluation instrument in which evidence of student learning is the most significant criterion, or it should specifically require that student learning be the preponderant criterion in local evaluation processes. This can be accomplished by requiring objective evidence to count for at least half of the evaluation score or through other scoring mechanisms, such as a matrix, that ensure that nothing affects the overall score more. Whether state or locally developed, a teacher should not be able to receive a satisfactory rating if found ineffective in the classroom.
The evaluation policy described in Georgia's Race to the Top proposal is commendable; however, until the state articulates a formal policy that requires the Teacher Effectiveness Measure for all teachers, it cannot ensure that instructional effectiveness will be the preponderant criterion in all teacher evaluations.
Ensure that evaluations also include classroom observations that specifically focus on and document the effectiveness of instruction.
Although Georgia commendably requires classroom observations, the state should articulate guidelines that ensure that the observations focus on effectiveness of instruction. The primary component of a classroom observation should be the quality of instruction, as measured by student time on task, student grasp or mastery of the lesson objective and efficient use of class time.
Georgia recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that it is important to recognize that the academic gains by students assigned to a teacher are to be considered in teacher evaluations. Georgia recommends that multiple measures be used to measure academic gains, but local systems make this final determination because constitutional law in Georgia dictates local control.
The state also noted that the five strands within the CLASS Keys represent a holistic picture of effective teachers. "While academic gains of the students are the primary goals of any evaluation system, the other four strands of CLASS Keys represent what all effective teachers should do in the classroom. Acceptable performance of all five strands is indicative of teacher effectiveness and therefore carries equal weight."
In addition, Georgia pointed out that CLASS Keys strands have a subset of 26 teacher performance standards that focus on effectiveness of instruction, rather than generalizations of quality of instruction examples, such as student time on task, student grasp or mastery of the lesson objective, and efficient use of class time.
Finally, the state added that development of an inclusive Teacher Effectiveness Measure (TEM), as outlined in its Race to the Top application, is underway. It will be a cohesive measure that recognizes teacher effectiveness of both core and noncore teachers. TEM includes a qualitative (rubrics-based) evaluation, class-level value-added/growth score, student achievement gap reduction and other quantitative measures. "The initial phase of the TEM will involve the 26 Race to the Top districts to gain content validity and reliability. Once validity has been established, the TEM will be phased in over a three-year period with 60 additional districts coming on board each year to ensure fidelity to the TEM."