Teacher ratings: Only 4 percent 'ineffective'

Nearly one in three public school teachers got the top rating in the first year of Louisiana’s new job evaluations, while 4 percent were labeled as ineffective, officials said Tuesday.

The results show that:

32 percent of teachers, 13,676, were rated as “highly effective.”

57 percent, 24,508, were rated as “effective/proficient,” which is above average.

8 percent, 3,449, were rated as “effective/emerging,” which suggests they need improvement.

4 percent, 1,608, were listed as ineffective, which could put teachers on a path to dismissal if they get the same rating in the next school year.

Half of the new reviews are based on the growth of student achievement, which has sparked controversy for months.

The other half is based on classroom observations, mostly by principals.

State Superintendent of Education John White, who released the results, said one of the best things about the state’s overhaul of teacher job evaluations is that the reviews generally mirrored student performance.

“There is alignment between the student outcomes and the educator outcomes,” White said.

Seven of 10 school districts where teachers rated highest in the top two categories were also in the top 25 percent of student progress or student achievement, according to the state Department of Education.

Debbie Meaux, president of the Louisiana Association of Educators, said the new reviews remain flawed, ensure only modest feedback for most teachers and are unable to properly evaluate certain educators, including librarians and special education teachers.

White said one concern is the unevenness of the rigor of the reviews from district to district.

He noted that just 2 percent of teachers in the East Baton Rouge Parish School District were rated as ineffective, which is half of the state average.

But 24 percent of East Baton Rouge Parish teachers were rated as highly effective in the classroom observation part of the review, which is four times higher than teachers who earned similar marks in the highly rated Ascension Parish school system.

“I would encourage East Baton Rouge to adopt an approach that has a high bar for classroom excellence,” White said.

Ascension Parish Superintendent Patrice Pujol said there is a reason that only 6 percent of teachers in her district earned the highest marks in the classroom observation category.

“We really reserve that for somebody that is absolutely off the charts,” Pujol said.

Just 1 percent of teachers in Ascension Parish were rated as ineffective.

The same category for Central was 2 percent; Zachary, 0.94 percent; Livingston, 2 percent and West Baton Rouge, 0.95 percent.

However, the Baker School District had 18 percent of its teachers rated as ineffective, according to the state Department of Education.

“Baker is struggling with its student outcomes,” White noted.

Only 42 percent of district students are on grade level.

Superintendent Ulysses Joseph did not return a call for comment on Tuesday.

The job reviews covered the 2012-13 school year.

In the New Orleans area, 7 percent of teachers were listed as ineffective in Orleans, which includes the state-run Recovery School District.

The ineffective rate in St. Tammany was 2 percent; 6 percent in Jefferson; and 0.68 percent in the St. Bernard Parish school system.

One of the complaints about the previous job reviews is that they were too cursory, and that 99 percent of educators were routinely judged to be satisfactory.

In this case 96 percent of teachers avoided the worst label, and both Meaux and Steve Monaghan, president of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, questioned whether the new reviews represent the sweeping changes promised.

White countered that the new job checks are more sophisticated in their feedback than the old “heads or tails” system.

Pujol, who is also president of the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents, agreed.

“Now there is more delineation,” she said.

Aside from the 4 percent of teachers rated as ineffective the 8 percent listed as effective/emerging means there is “a lot of room for growth,” Pujol said.