Measures of Student Growth: Pennsylvania

2017 Teacher and Principal Evaluation Policy

Goal

The state should require instructional effectiveness to be the determinative criterion of any teacher evaluation. The bar for this goal was raised in 2017.

Meets in part

Analysis of Pennsylvania's policies

Impact of Student Growth: Pennsylvania requires student performance to count for 50 percent of a teacher's overall evaluation rating. This half must be based on multiple measures of student achievement and be comprised of the following: building-level data (15 percent), which must include student performance on assessments, value-added assessment system data, graduation rates, promotion rates; teacher-specific data (15 percent), including student achievement attributable to a specific teacher as measured by student performance on assessments, value-added assessment system data, progress in meeting student goals; and elective data (20 percent), including measures of student achievement that are locally developed.

Pennsylvania does not require that teachers meet student growth goals or be rated at least effective for the student growth portion of their evaluation to earn an overall rating of effective. A teacher could earn zero points for student growth and still earn an overall rating of proficient. To earn a rating of proficient, a teacher must earn between 1.5 and 2.49 points (out of a total of 3 points). A teacher who earns the maximum points for observation and practice will earn 1.5 points, and therefore have sufficient points to earn an overall rating of proficient without any consideration of student growth.

Further, the state assigns overall ratings of satisfactory and unsatisfactory. Distinguished and proficient are considered satisfactory. Needs improvement is also considered satisfactory, except if the teacher gets another needs improvement rating within 10 years, and then it is considered unsatisfactory. To earn a rating of needs improvement, a teacher needs only between 0.5 and 1.49 points. Therefore, a teacher could earn zero points for student growth and only 0.5 points for observation and practice (out of a total of 1.5) and still earn an overall rating of satisfactory.

State's role in evaluation system: Pennsylvania's Teacher Effectiveness Tool is the evaluation tool used for all teachers in the state.

Citation

Recommendations for Pennsylvania

Require instructional effectiveness to be a determinative criterion of any teacher evaluation.
Although Pennsylvania requires that objective evidence of student growth be included in a substantial way in a teacher's evaluation rating, it does not play a profound role in a teacher's overall evaluation rating. Pennsylvania should ensure that a teacher is not able to earn an overall rating of effective if he or she is rated less-than-effective at increasing student growth.

State response to our analysis

Pennsylvania recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state reiterated that it uses a standard classroom teacher evaluation tool, except when local schools request to implement an alternative model that is as rigorous as the state's model. Pennsylvania's classroom teacher evaluation tool consists of the following:

  • 50 percent: Teacher Observation/Practice
  • 50 percent: Student Performance, comprised of the following:
    • 15 percent: Building Level Data
    • 15 percent: Teacher Specific Data
    • 20 percent: Elective Data (Student Learning Objectives)
Pennsylvania further noted that a teacher could still obtain an effective overall rating even if marked ineffective in one of the three student performance measures.

Updated: December 2017

How we graded

7A: Measures of Student Growth 

  • Student Growth: The state should require:
    • That districts use an evaluation instrument that includes objective student growth measures.
    • That the evaluation instruments used by districts are structured so that any teacher who is not rated as at least effective on measures reflecting student growth is not eligible to earn an overall rating of effective.
Student Growth
The full goal score is earned based on the following:

  • Full credit: The state will earn full credit if it requires teachers to achieve a student growth rating of at least effective in order to receive a summative rating of effective. 
  • Three-quarters credit: The state will earn three-quarters of a point if it requires teachers to earn a student growth rating that is greater than ineffective in order to earn a summative rating of effective. 
  • One-half credit: The state will earn one-half of a point if it requires objective measures of student growth to count for at least 33 percent of the summative score, but it does not require teachers to meet their student growth goals in order to be rated overall effective.
  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if its evaluation instrument requires objective measures of student growth to count for less than 33 percent of the summative score, but it does not require teachers to meet their student growth goals in order to be rated overall effective.

Research rationale

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.[1] 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,[2] rich data and strong controls can eliminate error and bias.[3] 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.[4] Teacher evaluation instruments should include factors that combine both human judgment and objective measures of student learning.[5]


[1] Hanushek, E. A., & Hoxby, C. M. (2005). Developing value-added measures for teachers and schools. Reforming Education in Arkansas, 99-104.; Clotfelter, C. & Ladd, H. F. (1996). Recognizing and rewarding success in public schools. In H. Ladd (Ed.), Holding schools accountable: Performance based reform in education (pp. 23-64). Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.; Ladd, H. F., & Walsh, R. P. (2002). Implementing value-added measures of school effectiveness: Getting the incentives right. Economics of Education Review, 21(1), 1-17.; Meyer, R. H. (1996). Value-added indicators of school performance. In E. A. Hanushek (Ed.), Improving America's schools: The role of incentives, (pp. 197-223). Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.; Braun, H. I. (2005). Using student progress to evaluate teachers: A primer on value-added models. Educational Testing Service.
[2] Rothstein, J. (2009). Student sorting and bias in value-added estimation: Selection on observables and unobservables. Education, 4(4), 537-571.; McCaffrey, D. F., Lockwood, J. R., Koretz, D., Louis, T. A., & Hamilton, L. (2004). Models for value-added modeling of teacher effects. Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics, 29(1), 67-101.; Darling-Hammond, L., Amrein-Beardsley, A., Haertel, E., & Rothstein, J. (2012). Evaluating teacher evaluation. Phi Delta Kappan, 93(6), 8-15.; McCaffrey, D. F., Lockwood, J. R., Koretz, D. M., & Hamilton, L. S. (2003). Evaluating value-added models for teacher accountability. Monograph. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.
[3] Chetty, R., Friedman, J. N., & Rockoff, J. E. (2014). Measuring the impacts of teachers II: Teacher value-added and student outcomes in adulthood. The American Economic Review, 104(9), 2633-2679.; Ballou, D., Sanders, W., & Wright, P. (2004). Controlling for student background in value-added assessment of teachers. Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics, 29(1), 37-65.; Chetty, R., Friedman, J. N., & Rockoff, J. E. (2014). Measuring the impacts of teachers I: Evaluating bias in teacher value-added estimates. The American Economic Review, 104(9), 2593-2632.
[4] Weisberg, D., Sexton, S., Mulhern, J., Keeling, D., Schunck, J., Palcisco, A., & Morgan, K. (2009). The widget effect: Our national failure to acknowledge and act on differences in teacher effectiveness. New Teacher Project.; Glazerman, S., Loeb, S., Goldhaber, D., Staiger, D., Raudenbush, S., & Whitehurst, G. (2010). Evaluating teachers: The important role of value-added. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution.
[5] Kane, T. J., Taylor, E. S., Tyler, J. H., & Wooten, A. L. (2011). Identifying effective classroom practices using student achievement data. Journal of Human Resources, 46(3), 587-613.; Taylor, E. S., & Tyler, J. H. (2012). The effect of evaluation on teacher performance. The American Economic Review, 102(7), 3628-3651.