Whose Teacher Evaluation to Believe? Principals' Assessments, Student Scores Sometimes Give Contrasting Pictures

By Amos, Denise Smith | The Florida Times Union, December 9, 2013 | Go to article overview

Whose Teacher Evaluation to Believe? Principals' Assessments, Student Scores Sometimes Give Contrasting Pictures


Amos, Denise Smith, The Florida Times Union


Byline: Denise Smith Amos

There are two sides to teacher evaluations in Florida.

About half the evaluation comes from principals watching teachers in the classroom, grading them on how well they encourage student learning and high-level thinking.

And half is based on numbers, student scores on statewide FCAT exams and other tests, along with a sophisticated algorithm called value-added that is supposed to measure students' academic growth on tests and how much of a hand their teacher had in it.

Both these parts of teacher evaluations are supposed to mesh - so teachers who score high in classroom observations should also earn high points for student test scores and vice versa.

But that didn't happen in Duval County last year, according to recently released data.

In evaluations in some subjects and grades, Duval teachers received much higher marks from principals observing them than they received from student test score performance. In some cases, the difference was stark.

For instance, the average Duval high school social studies teacher earned twice as many points from principals who observed their classes than from student growth on test scores - 62.6 points vs. 31.5 points on a100-point scale.

Big gaps also stood out for high school math teachers and high school reading teachers. Principals graded them, on average, about 60 percent higher than the same teachers earned via student testing gains.

What is out of whack? Principal observations or student testing numbers? Both, says Superintendent Nikolai Vitti.

He said Duval's principals and assistant principals are being trained now in evaluation strategies, to equip them to better recognize and reward teachers for rigorous instruction and to point out where teachers can improve. Things will get better.

"We have to refine the eye of the evaluators," Vitti said. "I'm not saying I want to see lower [teacher evaluation] scores. But as the student assessments improve and the instructional eye of our principals improve, we should see better parity" in teacher evaluations.

A NATIONAL ISSUE

Duval wasn't the only district with this challenge. National education experts said that as more states tie teacher evaluations to student test scores, the contrasting glowing principal observations are drawing greater scrutiny.

About 41 states have passed laws tying student test scores to teacher evaluations. Proponents say it's about time student testing gains counter the long-running tradition of favorable teacher evaluations from principals, who can be influenced by their relationships with teachers.

"I would be willing to wager that observation scores will always be higher than the testing scores," said Kathy Christie, vice president of knowledge/information management at Education Commission of the States, a national policy group. "That's one of the reasons states are talking about getting outsiders doing the observing."

But others say principal observations may be a more realistic picture of teacher work, because observations can occur several times a year and teachers learn early what they need to improve and can get coaching or training, so it's not surprising if by the end of the year they score higher, said Terrie Brady, president of the Duval teachers union.

All First Coast school districts reported recently that nearly all of their teachers were effective or highly effective. But in the region only Duval reported sizable variations between principal observation scores and student test performances.

St. Johns officials said they didn't do as detailed an analysis as Duval did, but they did compare average teacher scores and found them to be nearly equal on both sides of the evaluation.

"This data pleases me because that means there's consistency between the growth in the children and what principals see when they walk into the classroom," said Joseph Joyner, St. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Whose Teacher Evaluation to Believe? Principals' Assessments, Student Scores Sometimes Give Contrasting Pictures
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.