As you know, the current accountability system has created a number of inequities in our state from the classroom to the state level. In reviewing the presentation provided on the proposed accountability system, I fear that these inequities will not only continue, but also be exacerbated.
While there is still a considerable amount of disagreement among the commission in regards to what the final plan should look like. I want to take a moment to offer an alternative model. If you like this model, please don’t hesitate to contact your principals, superintendents, BESE members and Supt. John White.
Let’s start at the classroom level. Currently, our classroom teachers in Louisiana are evaluated using a 50/50 formula. This means 50% of the evaluation is determined by classroom observations (qualitative); the other 50%, assessment results (quantitative). For VAM teachers, the quantitative side is 35% VAM and 15% multiple measures. For a non-VAM teacher, it is 50% multiple measures.
By contrast, while assessments account for 50% of a high school performance score, a K-8 school score relies almost entirely (95%) on assessment results. The proposed plan reduces the assessment to 90%.
When you think about it, that is a very large disparity between the expectation of the classroom teacher and the school or district. Some would disagree, but I believe 50% for a teacher is too much. In addition, the current system allows for inequity of expectations on the outer edges of the continuum.
A teacher who teaches a high percentage of low-performing students is expected to bring them all to mastery level, and is labeled ineffective when they aren’t successful; even when a tremendous amount of growth takes place.
On the other hand, a teacher who teachers a large number of high performing students could probably just show up for work everyday, and the students would maintain their achievement, but with little growth. This teacher is considered highly-effective.
My first suggestion to an alternate plan is to align the expectations from the classroom to the school to the district using four equally weighted components in a manner in which acceptable performance in 3 of 4 components would not result in being labeled as failing. Of course, the four components would be my Utopian version. I understand that the law still requires 50% quantitative for teachers, but I would like to see it discussed, openly.
My second suggestion would be that the assessment portion, of whatever model is ultimately chosen, incorporate a variable proportion of weight between progress and achievement. Using this model, a teacher who wasn’t successful getting their low performers to mastery, but made tremendous growth, wouldn’t be labeled a failure. The same thing would occur on the high end of the scale. It would look something like this. First, you would determine the percentage of students achieving Mastery. If the percentage is 33.33%, or less, the progress portion of the assessment would make up 66% of the assessment component of the plan. If the percentage is 66%, or more, the achievement portion would be 66% of the assessment component. Everything in between would slide on a variable scale. If a teacher with a low performing group shows no achievement or growth, then they are ineffective. There still remains some inequity on the high end making it difficult to determine if the teacher of high performing students is actually effective, but it does level the expectations, considerably. Click image to enlarge.
There it is. A fair and equitable accountability plan with alignment of expectations from the classroom to the school to the district.