The state plans to do a review of a key part of Louisiana’s controversial new evaluations for some public school teachers.
The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on Wednesday directed BESE Executive Director Heather Cope, in consultation with state Superintendent of Education John White, to come up with a plan by December on how the study will be done.
Hiring third party reviewers to do the work is one of the options.
About a third of public school teachers, including many who teach math, are evaluated annually through a complex formula called the value added model, or VAM.
It is designed to rate teacher performance in part on the annual growth of student achievement.
Backers say the new job reviews are superior to the old system, which relied simply on classroom observations by principals.
But Lottie Beebe, a BESE member who lives in Breaux Bridge, said she continues to get complaints from teachers about details of the review and wants it studied more.
Beebe, who is superintendent of the St. Martin Parish school system, initially asked her colleagues to support the formation of a committee of statisticians and mathematicians “to research the reliability and validity” of the evaluations.
BESE President Chas Roemer suggested a third party review instead.
White, who backs the new evaluations, said he had no objections to more study.
“There is nothing wrong with an additional analysis,” he said.
Under state law, 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation is supposed to be based on the growth of student achievement and 50 percent on classroom observations by principals and others.
Beebe said she heard an education expert in Washington, D. C. say that no such reviews should rely on achievement gains for half of the job review, especially with tougher classroom standards set to take full effect in the 2014-15 school year.
She said she went along with the third party review because otherwise BESE would have taken no action on the issue.
Teachers whose jobs are linked to the value added model are those whose subjects can be linked to standardized tests, including third-grade language arts and math; English, math science and social studies teachers in grades 4-8; Algebra I and geometry teachers.
About two-thirds of public school teachers, including those in art, music and speech classrooms, are reviewed in part on whether they meet annual student learning targets.
Those are student academic goals agreed to at the start of the school year by principals and teachers.