EBR schools beat state as a whole on teacher evaluations

“We should be very proud of our teachers and the work that they’re doing in our system and that they are working at a very optimal rate.” Bernard Taylor, East Baton Rouge Parish Superintendent

In a turnabout from past rankings, public schools in Baton Rouge bested the state as a whole last school year when it came to the percentage of teachers both at the bottom and the top of the state’s new teacher evaluation system.

The schools also compared well with surrounding metro Baton Rouge school districts, according to results from the 2012-13 school year released Tuesday.

“We should be very proud of our teachers and the work that they’re doing in our system and that they are working at a very optimal rate,” East Baton Rouge Parish Superintendent Bernard Taylor said.

Slightly more than 2 percent of teachers in Baton Rouge public schools were rated ineffective, while nearly 4 percent of teachers statewide were considered ineffective.

Almost 36 percent of public school teachers in Baton Rouge earned the highest of the four new ratings, highly effective, compared with 32 percent considered highly effective statewide.

The East Baton Rouge Parish school system, home to 84 schools and more than 42,000 students, would have ranked even higher if the state had not mixed its results with those of eight schools in the parish overseen by the state-run Recovery School District, or RSD.

Four of the 10 schools with the highest percent of ineffective teachers are RSD schools. Lanier Elementary had by far the highest percentage of such teachers, 42 percent. And none of its teachers were rated as highly effective.

Kenilworth Science and Technology Charter, the only RSD school currently run as a charter school, had the best results among the RSD schools, with 3 percent of teachers rated ineffective, though only 18 percent were rated highly effective.

The controversial new teacher evaluation system, approved by the Legislature in 2010, is known as Compass.

Under the new reviews, half of a teacher’s job performance is based on the growth in student achievement and half is based on classroom observations, mostly by principals.

The East Baton Rouge Parish school that fared the worst was Riveroaks Elementary, where 17 percent of teachers were rated ineffective, while 26 percent of its faculty were rated highly effective.

Baton Rouge Magnet High had the best numbers with 76 percent of teacher rated highly effective and 24 percent rated effective; none of its teachers were considered either ineffective or the next category, “emerging effective.”

Seven public schools in Baton Rouge did not report overall teacher evaluation results.

The state piloted Compass in several school districts in 2011-12, including East Baton Rouge Parish, and made some changes as a result.

Taylor said he hasn’t closely compared the latest results with those a year ago, but said they look pretty similar. He also said the school system had some luck helping teachers who were in trouble improve their effectiveness.

“My assumption is that a teacher is either effective or can be effective,” he said.

Taylor said the school district did not keep non-tenured teachers who were rated ineffective, and some tenured teachers who got that rating retired or resigned. He said he has not called any tenure hearings because of the new teacher ratings.

He said he hopes the state dives deeper and looks for those teachers who are getting the best results with tough-to-teach groups such as special education students and those who for whom English is a second language.

“I want to see my teachers looking at what’s going on in those classrooms,” he said.