Public school teachers who get poor evaluations even though their students scored well could get special consideration, state Superintendent of Education John White said Thursday.
However, White emphasized that the issue likely applies to only 40 or 50 of Louisiana’s 55,000 teachers.
“Evaluating the teacher in a different way would be a positive solution,” he said.
White made his comments after meeting with teachers and others at South Highlands Elementary Magnet School, where complaints about parts of Louisiana’s new teacher evaluation system surfaced earlier this month.
Under a 2010 state law that takes effect this school year, half of a teacher’s annual evaluation will be based on the growth of student achievement and half on classroom observations.
But some teachers at South Highlands, which is the top-rated elementary school in the state, said they were rated as “ineffective” in trial runs even though their students scored among the highest in the state.
Since then, educators at high-performing schools in Baton Rouge and elsewhere have made similar comments.
The problem, they say, is that students who achieve high scores one year might fare well the next year but still show a drop.
That results in the teacher getting a low rating for failing to produce the gains that the state says is necessary to demonstrate their effectiveness.
The issue is significant because teachers who get back-to-back poor evaluations can lose their jobs.
White has written letters to some lawmakers and members of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education addressing the controversy.
Under his proposal, teachers rated at the highest levels on a state standardized test but score in the lowest category on their evaluation would be rated solely on classroom observations.
Students who score in the top two levels on key tests while their teachers are rated poorly “might not be the right outcome,” White said.
The change would require approval from the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Any such effort would spark controversy, in part because teacher unions and others contend the evaluations are unfair.
Backers contend the new evaluations end a system where teacher reviews amounted to little more than rubber stamps in which 99 percent received the state’s highest rating.
Opponents call the new plan unreliable and one that is being implemented without enough vetting.
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