Perhaps the most vexing question facing Michigan’s new evaluation system is how to compare teacher performance when students in one class may be far more advanced than students in another. So-called “value-added data” is intended solve that dilemma, by taking into account such factors as poverty and a student’s past performance to determine a teacher’s impact on student growth.
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The complexities of student test scores in teacher evaluations.
At the end of the school year, the third-grade students in Red School read at a grade level of 4.2, compared to a grade level of 3.5 in Blue School.
So the third-grade teacher at Red School should be rated higher than the third-grade teacher at Blue School?
Red School is in a wealthy suburb, while Blue School has a high percentage of low-income students. Children of high-income, college-educated parents do better in school. Should teachers’ performance be adjusted for the income of their students?
Red third-graders were reading at a 3.4 grade level at the beginning of the school year, increasing to 4.2; Blue third-graders started the year reading at grade level 2.5 and increased to 3.5. Should teachers’ performance be adjusted for net growth?
The Red third grade has one learning-disabled student, while the Blue class has four. Should that be taken into account too?
All the Red students were in the class all year; Blue had six students move into the third-grade class in February. Should the scores of those transfer students be counted in Blue teacher’s performance evaluation? Should they be counted as a fraction of a student?
“It’s absolutely imperative that this be done with finesse, because people’s livelihoods are at stake.”
Dan DeGrow, superintendent of St. Clair County Regional Education Service Agency and former Michigan Senate majority leader.