Teacher Evaluation: Fecklessness at the Board of “Education”

On April 28, 2011, the Board of Education adopted revised Guidelines for Uniform Performance Standards and Evaluation Criteria for Teachers.  The Guidelines provided for teacher evaluations in seven respects:

         Performance Standard 1:  Professional Knowledge
         Performance Standard 2:  Instructional Planning 
         Performance Standard 3:  Instructional Delivery
         Performance Standard 4: Assessment of/for Student Learning
         Performance Standard 5: Learning Environment
         Performance Standard 6: Professionalism
         Performance Standard 7: Student Academic Progress

Just from this list, we can see that the Board was focused on process, not results.  If chefs were rated on a similar scale, six parts of the rating would deal with cleanliness of the kitchen, skill in chopping vegetables, chefly demeanor, and the like, with only one item in seven related to the quality of the cooking.

It gets worse.

The measures of “student academic progress” in Standard 7 are:

• Sets acceptable, measurable, and appropriate achievement goals for student learning progress based on baseline data.
• Documents the progress of each student throughout the year.
• Provides evidence that achievement goals have been met, including the state-provided growth measure when available as well as other measures of academic progress.
• Uses available performance outcome data to continually document and communicate student progress and develop interim learning targets.

Nowhere in “sets . . . goals,” “documents . . . progress,” “provides evidence,” or “uses . . . data” do the guidelines say that the teacher shall be evaluated based on how much the students learn.  In the kitchen analogy, the chef’s cooking is to be measured by goals, progress, evidence, and data, not by the taste and presentation of the food.

Apparently the General Assembly noticed this gross departure from the Board’s duty to “supervis[e] the public schools.”  Chapter 588 of the 2013 Acts of Assembly includes the following amendments to Code §22.1-253.13:5.B:

Consistent with the finding that leadership is essential for the advancement of public education in the Commonwealth, teacher, administrator principal, and superintendent evaluations shall be consistent with the performance objectives standards included in the Guidelines for Uniform Performance Standards and Evaluation Criteria for Teachers, Administrators Principals, and Superintendents. Evaluations shall include student academic progress as a significant component and an overall summative rating. Teacher evaluations shall include regular observation and evidence that instruction is aligned with the school’s curriculum. Evaluations shall include identification of areas of individual strengths and weaknesses and recommendations for appropriate professional activities. (emphasis supplied)

Supposedly responding to that mandate, on July 23, 2015 the Board amended the Guidelines.  

The amended Guidelines contain the same seven standards.  Standard 7 gets amended only to replace “growth measure” with “progress data,” to reflect the Board’s abandonment of the rigorous SGPs for the new, not-much-penalty-for-failure, progress tables.

7.3  Provides evidence that achievement goals have been met, including the state-provided growth measure progress data when available as well as other multiple measures of student academic progress.

Even then, the teacher is not to be evaluated on achieving progress, but only for “provid[ing] evidence.” 

If that were not weak enough, the operative provision (Guidelines at 4) says:

The Code of Virginia requires that school boards’ procedures for evaluating teachers address student academic progress; how this requirement is met is the responsibility of local school boards. As prescribed by the Code of Virginia, each teacher must receive a summative evaluation rating. The Board’s Guidelines for Uniform Performance Standards and Evaluation Criteria for Teachers recommend weighting the first six standards equally at 10 percent each and that the seventh standard, student academic progress, account for 40 percent of the summative evaluation.

That provision renders the Guidelines both stupid and unlawful.

Stupid: The Guidelines recommend that the seventh standard account for 40% of the evaluation.  Yet Code §22.1-253.13:1.A tells us that

The General Assembly and the Board of Education believe that the fundamental goal of the public schools of the Commonwealth must be to enable each student to develop the skills that are necessary for success in school, preparation for life, and reaching their full potential.

So the Board of “Education” says that 60% (actually much more, given the fluff in the seventh Standard) of the evaluation should turn on things other than how much the students learn.

Unlawful: The statute, quoted above, requires that teacher evaluations be “consistent” with the standards in the Guidelines.  Yet the Guidelines themselves tell us that they are mere recommendations and that the local school boards get to decide what is “consistent.”  So, in fact we get up to 132 different sets of guidelines.

 

Why do you suppose the Board of “Education” is so dedicated to serving incompetent teachers instead of the students whose parents who are paying those teachers?