Teacher evaluation standards changing

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 16, 2010

By David Vitrano


RESERVE – Despite being distracted by the tragedy unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico, the Louisiana Legislature has been busy discussing, debating and voting on scores of bills. And while many of these will have little direct effect on residents of the River Parishes, some, such as those dealing with education, may be lasting.

One of the education bills recently signed into law, Act 54, will go into effect during the 2012-13 school year.

The new law, which deals with evaluation standards for both educators and administrators at the state and local levels, was hotly contested by the state teachers’ union. Locally, however, Carolyn Batiste, president of the St. John Association of Educators, took a different stance.

“I told my people, ‘Don’t be afraid of evaluations,’” she said. “As long as you’re doing your job, you shouldn’t have to worry about evaluations.”

She said she caught some flak from the state-level group but said she the union also went along with the Race to the Top application, part of which concerned revamping teacher evaluations within the district.

The new law increases the frequency of teacher evaluations from every three years to every year.

Also, the standard of evaluation will now be based on student success in what is called the “value-added” model. The value-added model will take into account a student’s socioeconomic background, academic history, exceptionalities and “other factors” to determine how much a student should grow from year to year.

Batiste said she will monitor its implementation closely to make sure some teachers, such as those who deal with special-needs students, are not unjustly penalized.

The terminology used in assessing teacher and administrator performance will also be changed from satisfactory and unsatisfactory to effective and ineffective.

Following the law being put into full effect in 2012, the new system will account for 50 percent of a teacher’s score. The other half of the evaluation score will be based on principal observations, peer review and other indicators as provided by the current law.

As part of the new law, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will have to report to the Legislature on the effectiveness, implementation and results of the value-added model.

The new law repeals the Teacher Assistance and Assessment Program.

Another education bill recently signed by Gov. Bobby Jindal makes it necessary for local school boards to include classroom management as part of professional development.

According to St. John Parish Public Schools Superintendent Courtney Millet, that law will have little effect on the district as it already includes classroom workshops as part of its professional development programs.