Teacher ratings: Ineffective

Syracuse has no highly effective elementary or middle school teachers under the district’s new rating system, notes Aaron Pallas on the Hechinger Report.

Just two percent of Syracuse teachers were rated highly effective, and an additional 58 percent were deemed effective. Seven percent were classified as ineffective, and 33 percent as developing, categories that suggest low levels of teaching performance, the need for teacher improvement plans, and the threat of eventual dismissal.

On average, Syracuse teachers were rated effective on the state’s metric for student growth. They were rated effective or highly effective by the principals and peers who observed their teaching.  But  the school-wide measures of student achievement used by the district lowered scores significantly.

That’s because teachers had to raise test scores from 2012 to 2013 to be rated effective. But the 2013 tests, aligned with Common Core standards, was much harder. Scores went down in Syracuse — and everywhere else in the state. That was inevitable.

I wonder how State Commissioner John King, Jr. would like it if his performance evaluation were based on the same criteria applied to teachers in Syracuse. The percentage-point increase in students statewide scoring at level 3 and 4 in ELA from 2012 to 2013? Well, that actually fell from 55 percent to 31 percent. The Commissioner gets a zero. The percentage-point increase in students scoring at level 3 and 4 in math? That fell from 65 percent to 31 percent. The Commissioner gets a zero. The percentage-point decrease in students statewide scoring at level 1 in ELA from 2012 to 2013? That actually increased from 10 percent to 32 percent. The Commissioner gets a zero. And the percentage-point decrease in students scoring at level 1 in math? That rose from eight percent to 33 percent. The Commissioner gets a zero.

Commissioner King is ineffective — by unfair criteria — concludes Pallas.

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  1. Usually there’s not a single teacher that’s rated ineffective and now we’ve got a story about an accountability scheme that pegs the meter at the other end of its range.

    I just have to wonder whether there’s a teacher accountability scheme anywhere that generates a bell curve?

    *That* I wouldn’t have any trouble believing but this story suggests that, more then anything else, school districts are simply inept at determining a teacher’s professional skills. Sure that incompetence generally shows up with the Lake Woebegone-esque claim that all a district’s teachers are above average but an inherent inability to measure teaching skill certainly falls in line with a disinterest in educational attainment by students.

    After all, if you don’t care about the one you’re probably not likely to be motivated to care much about the other.

  2. Miller Smith says:

    As a chemistry teacher and the last science credit my students have to take, 30% of my evaluation will be the score that all the other teachers before me got the students to make on the state tests. By that school score I can be judged to be ‘distinguished.’ in teacher via observations and post-test chemistry scores but still be rated overall as ‘basic’ and have my pay cut in half next year.

    How is this fair?