Georgia may standardize teacher evaluations
by Christina A. Cassidy
Associated Press Writer
April 13, 2013 11:55 PM | 1937 views | 6 6 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ATLANTA — Georgia is moving forward with a plan to standardize annual evaluations for teachers and principals based, in part, on student performance.

A pilot program launched a few years ago with federal funds will serve as a roadmap for districts after the General Assembly in recent weeks passed legislation approving the statewide plan. Gov. Nathan Deal is expected to sign the bill into law, and state education officials are working with local districts to prepare for the new system, to be implemented in every district by the 2014-15 school year.

“A big piece of this is professional learning,” said Avis King, deputy superintendent with the Georgia Department of Education. “What tools do these teachers and principals need to become better? And how can we support and provide that for them?”

Georgia is the latest state to move toward a standardized evaluation system, as advocates around the country have pushed for the change. In addition, funding to help develop the systems has been provided by the Obama administration under programs such as Race to the Top that are designed to encourage and reward states for implementing certain reforms.

In Georgia, evaluations will be divided 50 percent on student growth and achievement and 50 percent on other factors, including classroom observations and student surveys.

“Now we have a growth model that really honors the impact that teachers have on student performance,” said Robin Gay, director of teacher and leader effectiveness with the Department of Education. “Yes, we want all of our students to perform and be at mastery level. It may come over time.”

State education leaders say the system is needed to ensure teachers receive consistent feedback and direction. Critics of the current system say the varying standards typically resulted in satisfactory ratings with no emphasis on improvement. An initial review of a portion of the new system has shown a similar trend — nearly 94 percent of teachers in the first year of the pilot program received a rating of proficient or exemplary, with about 6 percent rated ineffective or developing/needs improvement.

State officials say the large percentage of positive scores indicates a need for further training and monitoring by the Department of Education. Other states have reported similar results with their new systems. Supporters say the change represents a major shift and it will take time for evaluators to adjust.

In Georgia, education officials say the system will allow for better recognition of the most effective teachers and school leaders because there will be shared data to analyze. The legislation does not mandate merit pay, but the evaluations will be a factor in decisions on retention, promotion, compensation and dismissals.
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April 14, 2013
So they are amazed that 94% of teachers are proficient. Could it actually be that most teachers are good and do their jobs effectively. Seems like a witch hunt to just get rid of hardworking, caring, underpaid teachers that already have a tough job.
Not Impressed
April 14, 2013
Standardized teacher evaluations are a very bad idea! Each local school district should be able to decide what works best for their community. I was a teacher for many years. I finally left the classroom to go work in industry. I now make a lot more money and have a lot fewer headaches.

People that think that this evaluation system is a great idea should be forced to teach in a classroom for five consecutive years under this plan (I bet they wouldn't be so excited about this evaluation system if it was being done to them).

It is possible with this evaluation system that a group of apathetic or low achieving students could hurt the career of an outstanding teacher. Many teachers may see this and get out of a bad situation fast to protect his or her career. It may then become difficult to get an outstanding teacher in some of the most challenging teaching environments throughout the state (and there are many, many challenging environments).
Eval $=stupid
April 14, 2013
Teachers should not get graded on how well the students do in school! Students are only in class 30 hours a week compared to 168 hours in an entire week. This means they spend 138 hours AWAY from the teachers each week. Education begins at home and common sense tells us that not all homes provide proper educational opportunities for their children. Teachers can only do so much with what is being given, classroom sizes growing larger, salary staying the same or lower all the while other expenses are growing. If you really want to do something add cameras to the classrooms for evaluations. The ones like they have in day care. This way parents and observers can have Quality Control over every classroom. And DON'T skimp on the camera system!
Jim Stoll
April 14, 2013
For the past 10 years the students have been running the classrooms of Cobb Schools and the Administration has been supporting their activities. Now it seems that the administratiors want to take it one step closer to oblivion. They are planning to let the children assist in the evaluation of their teachers. What teacher would want to take part in such an "experiment"?
Will fail
April 14, 2013
Teachers can not force children or their parents to be involved in their own education. We have many students failing because they choose to not do their homework or study. It is not the fault of the teacher but the parents. I believe the parents of students whom are failing should be held accountable. Documents of communication and meetings should be placed in the students records and have the parents held accountable for child neglect. Teachers will not continue to work at Title I schools when all the blame is being placed on them. We do need a better evaluation system but we need a solution to the parent problem!
April 14, 2013
To even consider to treat one school like another is absurd. CCSD must take into consideration the demographics and whether a school is Title I(majority on free or reduced lunches) which establishes to socio-economics of the student body. Some schools have a culture with gangs, high student pregnancies, high transient rates, high Title III(large non-English student speakers) lower attendance rates etc. So, how can one use the same evaluation tool for a Pope H.S. vs. that of an Osborne H.S.? It is absurd.
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