Teachers Union: Test Scores Will Not Be Used in Official Evaluations

teachers and test scores.jpg

UPDATE: The Seattle Education Association voted tonight to approve a contract that allows teachers to be judged for the first time on student test scores, even if such judgments are not considered part of formal staff evaluations. The union also voted to express no confidence in Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson.

For weeks, the Seattle Education Association has been saying that it's dead-set against using student test scores to evaluate teachers. Yesterday, Seattle Public Schools and the teachers union announced that they had reached a tentative agreement that will, in the district's characterization, use "student growth measures as part of the new evaluation." Did the union cave?

SEA president Olga Addae insists no. In fact, she maintains that test scores will not be part of teachers' "final evaluation." Rather, she says, poor scores will be used as a "trigger" for further evaluation.

This is how it works according to documents posted on the district's website (see pdf listing highlights of the agreement).

Beginning in the 2011-2012 school year, teacher will receive a "student growth score" based on a two-year average of at least two tests taken by kids in their classrooms. The tests would be either district-wide (such as the MAP tests currently given to students several times a year) or state-wide ones (i.e. the new tests created by OSPI to replace the WASL).

Here's the bottom line:

An educator that receives a low student growth rating in September will immediately receive additional evaluations and support, including principal observations and progress meetings.

In others words, it'll be a big pain in the ass for such teachers, with lots of unwanted face time with their bosses. It could also ultimately result in teachers being put on probation, according to district documents (see pdf of detailed summary).

Separately, teachers will be assessed by conventional means--namely, the judgment of their principals--according to a new system that specifies what the principals should be looking at (teachers' level or preparation, the environment in their classrooms, and so on).

That conventional assessment is what Addae refers to as the official "evaluation," and technically she may have a point. (District spokesperson Patti Spencer-Watkins could not immediately confirm whether Addae is right.) Under the initial district proposal, there was just one official evaluation and it would have put student test scores into the mix.

But, obviously, teachers would be judged by test scores in the new agreement too. (All teachers, by the way, not just new ones or those who opt in to the system, as initially suggested by the district's old proposal.) And this seems a big concession for the union, albeit one it might feel it has to make, given a huge new push at the state and national level to use test scores in teacher evaluations.

We'll see later today if teachers go for it. The union's general membership will vote on the agreement at a meeting that begins at 4:30 p.m. At the same meeting, they will vote on whether to express no confidence in Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson, the woman who many believe is pushing this idea on them.

comments powered by Disqus