State school board considering change to how teachers, principals are evaluated

Posted February 3, 2016
Updated February 4, 2016

— The State Board of Education is considering a policy that would eliminate student growth as a way to measure the effectiveness of teachers and principals, a move that supporters say would relieve pressure on educators and reduce their anxiety.

If the policy is approved, student performance on state tests could still be discussed during teacher evaluations but would no longer affect a teacher’s status. The change, if approved, would go into effect after Aug. 1.

The goal “is for teachers to improve, not be judged,” board member Eric Davis said during Wednesday's meeting.

Known as “Standard 6” in the North Carolina Educator Effectiveness System, teachers are rated in one of three categories – does not meet expected growth, meets expected growth or exceeds expected growth – based on how students perform on tests.

The state school board can consider doing away with that mandate due to the recent overhaul of the No Child Left Behind law. The rewrite of the law, now named the "Every Student Succeeds Act,” gives states more decision-making authority.

School board members were quick to mention that, if the proposed policy is approved at next month’s meeting, that doesn’t mean the state will stop collecting student growth data or sharing it with teachers.

“Student growth will never be a substitute for a principal giving a teacher feedback for how to improve performance,” said Tom Tomberlin, director of Educator Human Capital Policy and Research with the state Department of Public Instruction. “What we want is for that information to drive the conversation.”

Too few standards for educators can lead to neglect, but too many standards can lead to anxiety, he said.

“Student growth has always been about helping teachers,” Tomberlin said. “Your goal is to motivate … (and) achieve the sweet spot with teachers.”

Keana Triplett, North Carolina’s Teacher of the Year and advisor to the state school board, said she views Standard 6 as “a punitive measure.”

“When my principal hands me my scores, my stomach drops,” she said.

If the policy is approved, Triplett said, the state Department of Public Instruction needs to communicate with teachers so they understand the change.

“(Teachers have said) ‘Oh, it’s gone! We don’t have to worry! Tests are over!’ And I say, ‘No,’” Triplett told board members. “We have to be real and we have to be honest that tests are not going away.”


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  • Amy Clayton Feb 3, 2016
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    Charles, you have NO idea what teachers put up with. I have had classes overloaded with kids who don't care, and their parents don't care. They were taught, tutored, retested, and never passed any testing! Extra help sent home that was never completed--Letters sent home to parents that never come back-- Calls not returned--I DARE you to volunteer in a local school in your area, then come back and post something like you just did. Welcome to our real world!

  • Ron Myers Feb 3, 2016
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    In some ways this change in the policies to evaluate teacher competence is refreshing. Consistent criteria across whole school systems and the State is extremely difficult. Several studies indicate that the majority of students learning capacity is associated with factors other than the school system and teachers. These outside factors vary considerably across the state and within school districts. While the primary focus must be the advancement of the students, it should not be at the expense of teachers. Educators should have assessment policies which allows them the ability to provide struggling teachers training to overcome those struggles and to move substandard teachers that are unable to overcome their struggles to positions where those failings do not affect the students (including outside the education system).

  • Greg Griffin Feb 3, 2016
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    Too many factors that a teacher cannot control come into play with testing. You can teach up one side the room and down the other, deliver top-notch instruction, and have a child come in and finish a three hour test in 15 minutes. Many kids just go through and guess. And then the teacher's evaluation suffers. Some kids come in exhausted because they were up all night playing video games. Some students come in after having a fight with their parents. Some kids don't eat breakfast. Some parents who don't value education tell their kids that it's okay to fail the EOG. I think I've made my point. Yes, we need to hold teachers accountable but using test scores is not the way.

  • Ashley Moore Feb 3, 2016
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    Most people in the real world are not measured on the performance of people whose living conditions, food supply, and general welfare are out of their control. If I was working on a project wherein I control all the elements and I failed to show any progress, then yes, I could totally get behind Standard 6. However, because my effectiveness is based on the performance of children who broke up with their boyfriend, has other kids spreading rumors about them, have nonexistent parents, don't know where their next meal is coming from, etc. - all factors I cannot control, then one has to raise questions. Most teachers work incredibly hard to give their students the best education possible, and in the end, underperforming students are usually not the result of that teacher.

  • Johnny Byrd Feb 3, 2016
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    Oh, and Charles, teachers have state observers come in on almost a weekly basis to observe and grade the teachers performance.
    How often does your boss stand and watch you working then grade you on your performance?

  • Johnny Byrd Feb 3, 2016
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    I am not a teacher myself but I have been married to a very dedicated teacher for 44 years and my daughter has chosen that important task herself. NOW, welcome to the "real" world that teachers must navigate.
    1) Potentially classes loaded with underachievers that must be motivated daily.
    2) Children from poverty stricken areas where the parents have no motivation to push their children to learn.
    3) parents who will interfere on almost a daily basis
    4) very little funds to provide adequate supplies (my wife spent hundreds of her on money every year to get what she needed) 5) Way underpaid when compared to the private sector with similar credentials. And don't give me the bull about only working 10 months per year, that's all they get paid for. List goes on and on but the last and most important they have no control over who they must teach and are extremely limited when it comes to discipline and consequences for bad behavior.

  • Charles Edwards Feb 3, 2016
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    "relieve pressure on educators and reduce their anxiety"

    Poor, poor, poor teachers. Can't have any objective measurement and/or oversight.

    Sad state of affairs. Most people in the real word in solid businesses are held to very specific, measureable goals. Nope, can't have the teachers have that same rigor. I'm sorry the appraisal process is giving them anxiety.

    Welcome to the real world!