December 4, 2018

Maybe it is time to stop using "Student Growth" as a variable for teacher evaluation
PERA was passed by the Illinois General Assembly and signed into law in 2010. Educators were required to include a minimum of 30% of the teacher and principal rating on the variable of student growth. I believe what has happened is that most local joint committees have student growth as a component of teacher evaluation in spirit, but it does not really affect the rating in the actual practice of teacher evaluation.
What do I mean by spirit? I do think the fact that educators had to consider student growth in the evaluation process has opened up conversations between administrators and teachers on this subject. I do believe that the two parties are looking at student growth in the evaluation process, but I do not think that the student growth score negatively affects the final summative teacher rating.
It would be interesting if someone does a study on the lowest performing schools in Illinois based on the ESSA designations and see if any teacher ratings are Unsatisfactory or Needs Improvement because of the student growth score. My guess is that there will be a very low correlation between low summative teacher ratings and underperforming school achievement and student growth scores.
As a member of the IASA Illinois School for Advanced Leadership curriculum team I had to participate and pass an extensive curriculum on Adult Coaching led by two great trainers--Sandy Brown and Dr. Nancy Blair. We learned in this training that adults will only change behavior if they own their own change. When coaching adults we learned to not "tell" our client what to do, but rather to ask questions of the client to find out what they wanted to do or improve in their work or personal life--for the client to set their own work and personal goals.
I really believe this should be the basis for teacher and principal evaluation. Evaluators should be asking clients (those they evaluate) reflective questions to get the client to think about their actions. Only when the client believes in a solution and a plan to effectuate it will the solution actually occur.
Let's face it, teachers do not get dismissed at Lowest Performing or Under Performing schools because of the students' test scores. What we need to do in education is to change the conversations to data-based decision making with an emphasis on reflection questioning by the evaluator. The client then needs to decide how he/she will change their instruction to result in higher student achievement and growth.
The reason I have added data-based decision making to this conversation is because evaluators and clients both need to examine what the educational data states will lead to higher student achievement. I would invite everyone who is reading this article to click on the following link and to examine what Hattie considers the 250+ Influences on Student Achievement. Educators should be concentrating on those influences that have an effect size of .40 or higher.
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