The state should require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
West Virginia does not require that objective evidence of student learning be the preponderant criterion of its teacher evaluations. The state is in the process of implementing a statewide teacher evaluation system. Implementation is slated for school year 2013-2014.
West Virginia now requires that 15 percent of a teacher's summative evaluation score be based on student growth as measured by student learning goals and 5 percent on student learning growth measured by the schoolwide score on the state summative assessment. The process adopted by the state board will incorporate the use of two pieces of evidence at two points in time to demonstrate student learning as an indicator of educator performance, as well as the use of schools' schoolwide student learning growth as measured by the statewide summative assessment.
The remaining 80 percent is based on an appraisal of the teacher's ability to perform to the established professional standards.
The four performance ratings that must be used are: distinguished, accomplished, emerging and unsatisfactory.
Classroom observations are required. However, once a teacher has six-plus years of experience, observations are only conducted if requested by a principal.
HB 4236 (2012) West Virginia BOE Policy 5310 http://apps.sos.wv.gov/adlaw/csr/readfile.aspx?DocId=24716&Format=PDF
Require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
West Virginia's policy falls short by failing to require that 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.
Ensure that evaluations also include classroom observations that specifically focus on and document the effectiveness of instruction.
Although West Virginia requires classroom observations as part of teacher evaluations, the state should articulate guidelines that focus classroom observations on 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.
West Virginia asserted that its new educator evaluation system went into effect for the 2013-2014 school year and provides for changes in teacher evaluation procedures. Observations focus on what the teacher demonstrates as it relates to the state's Professional Teaching Standards, which are the foundation of the evaluation. Criteria such as "quality of instruction, student time on task and efficient use of class time" can all be evaluated during the observation within the first three standards. The "student grasp or mastery of a lesson" may not be best measured during a 30-minute observation but rather through the student learning components of the evaluation system.
West Virginia added that the percentage weight given to student learning (20 percent) within the evaluation system was agreed on by the multiple stakeholder groups responsible for its construction as well as for the state's approved ESEA waiver.
Teachers should be judged primarily by their impact on students.
While many factors should be considered in formally evaluating a teacher, nothing is more important than effectiveness in the classroom. Unfortunately, districts have used many evaluation instruments, including some mandated by states that are structured, so that teachers can earn a satisfactory rating without any evidence that they are sufficiently advancing student learning in the classroom. It is often enough that teachers appear to be trying, not that they are necessarily succeeding.Many evaluation instruments give as much weight, or more, to factors that lack any direct correlation with student performance—for example, taking professional development courses, assuming extra duties such as sponsoring a club or mentoring and getting along well with colleagues. Some instruments hesitate to hold teachers accountable for student progress. Teacher evaluation instruments should include factors that combine both human judgment and objective measures of student learning.
Evaluation of Effectiveness: Supporting Research
Reports strongly suggest that most current teacher evaluations are largely a meaningless process, failing to identify the strongest and weakest teachers. The New Teacher Project's report, "Hiring, Assignment, and Transfer in Chicago Public Schools", July 2007 at: http://www.tntp.org/files/TNTPAnalysis-Chicago.pdf, found that the CPS teacher performance evaluation system at that time did not distinguish strong performers and was ineffective at identifying poor performers and dismissing them from Chicago schools. See also Lars Lefgren and Brian Jacobs, "When Principals Rate Teachers," Education Next, Volume 6, No. 2, Spring 2006, pp.59-69. Similar findings were reported for a larger sample in The New Teacher Project's The Widget Effect (2009) at: http://widgeteffect.org/. See also MET Project (2010). Learning about teaching: Initial findings from the measures of effective teaching project. Seattle, WA: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
A Pacific Research Institute study found that in California, between 1990 and 1999, only 227 teacher dismissal cases reached the final phase of termination hearings. The authors write: "If all these cases occurred in one year, it would represent one-tenth of 1 percent of tenured teachers in the state. Yet, this number was spread out over an entire decade." In Los Angeles alone, over the same time period, only one teacher went through the dismissal process from start to finish. See Pamela A. Riley, et al., "Contract for Failure," Pacific Research Institute (2002).
That the vast majority of districts have no teachers deserving of an unsatisfactory rating does not seem to correlate with our knowledge of most professions that routinely have individuals in them who are not well suited to the job. Nor do these teacher ratings seem to correlate with school performance, suggesting teacher evaluations are not a meaningful measure of teacher effectiveness. For more information on the reliability of many evaluation systems, particularly the binary systems used by the vast majority of school districts, see S. Glazerman, D. Goldhaber, S. Loeb, S. Raudenbush, D. Staiger, and G. Whitehurst, "Evaluating Teachers: The Important Role of Value-Added." The Brookings Brown Center Task Group on Teacher Quality, 2010.
There is growing evidence suggesting that standards-based teacher evaluations that include multiple measures of teacher effectiveness—both objective and subjective measures—correlate with teacher improvement and student achievement. For example see T. Kane, E. Taylor, J. Tyler, and A. Wooten, "Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness." Education Next, Volume 11, No. 3, Summer 2011, pp.55-60; E. Taylor and J. Tyler, "The Effect of Evaluation on Performance: Evidence from Longitudinal Student Achievement Data of Mid-Career Teachers." NBER Working Paper No. 16877, March 2011; as well as H. Heneman III, A. Milanowski, S. Kimball, and A. Odden, "CPRE Policy Brief: Standards-based Teacher Evaluation as a Foundation for Knowledge- and Skill-based Pay," Consortium for Policy Research, March 2006.