State school board considering change to how teachers, principals are evaluated
Posted February 3, 2016
Updated February 4, 2016
Raleigh, N.C. — 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.”