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Georgia implementing system to measure teacher effectiveness

Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012 7:11 PM
Last updated Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012 7:02 AM
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Effective teaching can be found in the paper trail of standardized test scores in addition to the inspirational stories told at graduation.

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Pine Hill Middle School Principal Glenda Collingsworth stands by as sixth-graders Cameron Etheridge (left) and Christian Joyner take a teacher evaluation survey being used in Georgia.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Pine Hill Middle School Principal Glenda Collingsworth stands by as sixth-graders Cameron Etheridge (left) and Christian Joyner take a teacher evaluation survey being used in Georgia.

Good teaching also can be measured with a formula using data and numbers, or is success better proved after students leave the classroom?

“An effective teacher can be measured not only by their results on a test but in the impact that you have on that child’s life and beyond,” said Crystal Gaines, a teacher at John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School. “To me, I know I’ve been effective when I still have that relationship with them after they leave my classroom because it goes beyond academics.”

As intangible as good teaching can be, state officials are working to create a measurement system that identifies which teachers are affecting student success and which are holding students back. The 2012-13 term is the first year of implementation of the Teacher Keys Effectiveness System, which uses classroom observations, student surveys and student academic growth to measure a teacher’s effectiveness.

“There was a time when an administrator would go in the classroom, you’d look at the bulletin board, you’d see if the students were extremely quiet, but it’s not like that anymore,” said Missoura Ashe, Richmond County’s executive director of elementary schools. “This is more specific, more in-depth. You are to score a teacher based on what’s evident. Not what you think but what you see.”

The process began early in the school year with teacher self-assessments and continued with principals’ observations. This month, the Richmond County School System is in the midst of the student feedback component, in which students take a 15-question survey that asks such things as, “Does my teacher encourage me to participate in class?” Students answer with a four-point rubric ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree.

Teachers don’t see the students’ names or how one student answered all the questions, but can view how many students gave the same answer.

“I love it because for me, as a teacher, if there are ways I need to grow so I can teach my kids better, I want to do that,” said Pine Hill Middle School English/language arts teacher Leslie LaPrise. “I know what I’m good at, but a lot of times I need feedback on where I need to grow.”

Along with student surveys, administrators must observe each teacher based on 10 instruction standards several times a year, in addition to four more casual, unscored walk-throughs.

For subjects that have yearly standardized tests, the growth a student makes will be compared to scores from the year before.

In subjects that aren’t tested, such as chorus or physical education, student growth will be measured in before-and-after tests.

The data from principals’ observations, student surveys and test scores is compiled in the Teacher Keys Effectiveness System online platform for teachers, who can log in to the system and review their evaluation at any point in the year. LaPrise also uploads video and photos of her instruction to her profile to give more information to her principal and to store ideas.

Dana Rickman, the director of policy and research for the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, said the evaluation system is mostly a tool for reflection and can help teachers grow in areas they didn’t realize were lacking.

“The way they wanted this accountability system to work was to be a learning tool for teachers and not so much a ‘Gotcha, you’re not a good teacher,’ ” Rickman said. “It’s more like, ‘Here’s the areas where you’re strong, and here’s where you need work.’ ”

The state is still determining how to calculate a final score, or effectiveness measure, when the observations, student surveys and student growth components are combined at the end of the year, according to Avis King, the deputy superintendent in the state Office of School Improvement.

Also uncertain is how outstanding scores will be rewarded, whether with merit pay, salary increases or a pat on the back.

“That would take, I believe, legislation or a big change,” King said of merit pay. “Our focus right now is making sure these effectiveness systems are the best they can be.”

Even without merit pay, LaPrise said, constructive feedback is a reward in itself, giving teachers more specific direction on how to improve their instruction.

Having taught in Maryland and other states, LaPrise said other states’ evaluation pieces can be threatening and punitive. But an opportunity to work with a principal to discuss strategy and hear feedback from students broadens her perspective.

“When you feel like your job is on the line, you feel like you have to defend yourself,” she said. “But in a system where your job is safe, it’s easy to hear ‘This is where you need to improve.’ It’s easy to be open to improvement.”

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cm51
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cm51 12/05/12 - 09:57 pm
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The system is waaaaaaaayyy

The system is waaaaaaaayyy broken, when you allow 6th graders to do performance evaluations.......................their still trying to determine if they like Batman or Spongebob.

Mark Flowers
4
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Mark Flowers 12/06/12 - 12:29 am
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TKES has one purpose:

We are taught in the training for this product that it is almost impossible to score exemplary. This way when test scores come back as subpar, they can look at all the "Needs Improvement" teachers as the problem.
TKES is a joke!

Little Lamb
43803
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Little Lamb 12/06/12 - 12:40 am
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Test Scores

Test scores are the only measure of teacher effectiveness.

dichotomy
30348
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dichotomy 12/06/12 - 12:43 am
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Same old story. We create a

Same old story. We create a way to measure effectiveness. They use it 3 or 4 years and it shows they are not very effective so they say "that was not a good way to measure effectiveness so let's create another measurement system and use it for 3 or 4 years". Give them enough time and they will eventually create an evaluation system that says they are great.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch the teachers will be reading the "evaluations" their 6th graders gave them and tingling with all that touchy feely crap, the drop out rate will still be 50%, and Little Johnny will still be dumb as a rock and doing time down at Tubman before graduating to RCCI.

Young Fred
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Young Fred 12/06/12 - 03:23 am
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It's a step in the right

It's a step in the right direction. Hopefully, if the state is serious about improving education, they've considered such things as an 11 years-old biases in evaluating their teachers, and state measurement/test that simply allow some teachers to game the system. (as per cm51 and dichotomy)

Many see the built in flaws of any test that are far from the radar of most bureaucrats. That's why constant monitoring and awareness of the system is a must for voting citizens that care about our future.

Mark Flowers, I'm sorry, but you come off as the typical educrat that disdains any attempt to measure effectiveness. I know it's hard, but hey, most things worthwhile are not easy.

I see this as a positive, I'm sure it will have to be tweaked, but you have to start somewhere.

Our current system is a SHAM, it's time to get serious and try to catch up with the rest of the world. But I remain skeptical. This IS the state of Georgia, trying to change an entrenched bureaucracy.

Just My Opinion
5253
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Just My Opinion 12/06/12 - 05:53 am
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Young Fred, you come across

Young Fred, you come across as someone who is on the outside looking in. If you have someone on the INSIDE who is telling you the problems with the program, then how can you NOT listen to his comments? Young Fred, if you worked at the Widgit Corp making widgits all day, and there was a new production improvement plan coming up, whose advice would you want your supervisor to pay attention to...yours (who works on the line everyday!) or a pencil-pusher from the corporate office (that's NEVER made a widgit in his life)? Things change and one of the areas that we are seeing that change is in the schools. Many parents are not "good parents", for various reasons, and their children are not able to learn effectively, for various reasons. Some of those reasons do not include the teacher....the child has ADD, or some other learning problem, and they have to share the class with several other children with ADD-type problems...the classrooms are overcrowded, which severly reduces the amount of one-on-one time so often needed...there is often NO additional help for the teacher to fall back on, ie. no parapro, no couselor, no nurse, no admistrator...the list can go on.
Fred.....and don't think I'm beating up on you, because I'm not intending for that....you said " constant monitoring and awareness of the system is a must for voting citizens"...and I agree. The BEST way to become aware and monitor these things is to go the bottom line, the front line of the action, and that is IN THE CLASSROOM!! See for yourself what goes on, what the teachers have to deal with every day. Go ahead, I challenge anyone to do that...even these people who are making up these surveys and performance test. But do it right and stay for at least a week! Don't just pop in on your lunch hour or for 20 here or there...that wouldn't be accurate, because it would give you more of a objective view instead of a true subjective view.

avidreader
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avidreader 12/06/12 - 06:41 am
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No Fuss, No Fear!

TKES is fine with me. It's a compact and easy system that offers a genuine roadmap for good teaching methods. I have infused several new methods this year, and they actually work. My students work hard for me because they respect me, and in turn, I give them my best. Connections are 80% of success, and TKES simply lends a helping hand. I really do not understand the big fuss. As for student surveys, there will always be a few kids who will not honor the privilege, but most will respond with dignity and honesty.

But, I'm only speculating. I can't help it if I'm a positive educator. I believe that all children can be successful learners in spite of the many pitfalls in their daily lives. I'm still learning. I'm still smiling!

Young Fred
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Young Fred 12/06/12 - 07:43 am
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Just My Opinion – I could say...

Just My Opinion –

I could say that you come across as someone who is on the inside looking more inward. Attempting to excuse any and all criticism from the paying consumers angry with a substandard product. Using the excuse: “they can’t possibly understand”.

I believe it’s a given that anybody who cares about this subject realizes that sorry parents make for substandard students.

Because sorry parents are nothing new, and because we as a society are unwilling to do anything meaningful about sorry parents (defining that would be a debate for the ages), YOU as an educator have to deal with reality, I would think you’d realize that.

IF, because of the long term effects of our democratic process, we’ve elected people who’ve promulgated “standards” that define a fair and equal education as teaching to the lowest standards in our classrooms – and IF you’ve chosen to be part of this system, you are either one of two things:

1 – You agree with the educrats and are part of the problem
2 – You disagree, and because of your passion, you remain, in the hopes of making a difference.

If you are one of the few number “2’s”, then you should (in my opinion) embrace each and every effort made to improve the broken system. No suggested solution is going to be perfect, it will take time, effort, and tweaking.

But to imply that the paying consumer, the ones who intrust the education of our offspring to the state, to imply that because we’re not career educrats, our opinion is less valid is ridiculous. We pay you. We are the consumers. We have the right to demand a certain standard.

Read that last sentence carefully.

kc fan
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kc fan 12/06/12 - 09:05 am
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JMO & YF

I definitely agree with your point. As a consumer YF, you might want to spend some time in your child's classroom to see how your tax dollars are hard at work. As a retired military officer and educator, I always told people that were thinking about entering the teaching profession to spend some "serious" time in a classroom. Most outsiders think teaching is easy-peasy and it is definitely not. New teacher turn over is a staggering statistic because of the overwhelming stress. I enjoyed my time in both professions and pray for both because of the changes that government officials and taxpayers are demanding.

Mr. Thackeray
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Mr. Thackeray 12/06/12 - 09:29 am
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Good God!!!

"Effective teaching can be found in the paper trail of standardized test scores" Tracey McManus, you haven't a clue. You lead with this statement? It is a BOLD FACED LIE, perpetuated by government agencies and real estate agencies. I taught in public education (middle & high schools) for over 30 years. Test scores have NO bearing what-so-ever! Crystal Gaines is correct; Tracey, you haven't a clue...walk a mile in my shoes!

OpenCurtain
10049
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OpenCurtain 12/06/12 - 10:01 am
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Face it

some people and students also, are as dumb as wallpaper.

Sure we can rid ourselves of bad teachers, which are about 2 or 3 per hundred. It makes good headlines and great sound bites,but fails to address the bigger issue.

A growing number Dumb and problem students.

For even better improvements, we need to also address, in a blunt NON-PC manner, the growing problem and dumb student issue. This number is extremely much higher in numbers than a few bad teachers.

ALSO
Parents need to be held accountable for their kids actions in school.

If a student refuses to be taught more than how to flip a hamburger, then send he,she or it to a special school to learn how to get the order right.

I am tired of them getting my order wrong.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 12/06/12 - 11:05 am
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I think open covered it all

Face it

some people and students also, are as dumb as wallpaper.

Yep & the Board is too.....check with clayton county Ga....
oh there is so much I could say...but why bother...

itsanotherday1
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itsanotherday1 12/06/12 - 11:42 am
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" I really do not understand

" I really do not understand the big fuss."

The big fuss is that IMO, teachers have always resisted performance yardsticks. I understand the trepidation if the measurement is totally dependent on student performance because there are some students that can't or won't learn.

However, there has to be some way to cull poor performers and reward top performers. Teachers, like all other professionals, vary in talent, dedication, and drive. There must be a way to stratify them.

I fear though, the results won't be politically palatable.

Young Fred
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Young Fred 12/06/12 - 01:33 pm
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KC, I have spent time in my

KC, I have spent time in my children’s classrooms, many, many times. I also spend as much time as possible volunteering for all school functions, just to get know other parents, teachers and administrators. What I’ve seen is a system that at its norm is barely adequate.

OPENCURTAIN, to say that bad teachers are 2 or 3 per hundred makes me doubt everything you’ve written. Maybe you’ve experience with much better school systems, or maybe our definition of “bad” is miles apart.

My opinions of the school systems were formed from 1995 to now, in Richmond county GA, Aiken county SC, and Onondaga county NY. My estimate of public school teachers, based on purely anecdotal evidence is probable about 25% good to excellent, 20% poor to negligent, and the rest running the gambit from barely adequate to average.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 12/06/12 - 03:49 pm
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Fruit Basket Turnover

I was listening to a show on NPR last night about proposals seriously being considered by some school systems in which they are planning to establish different standards for success based on race or national origin in the standardized testing for compliance with No Child Left Behind. It went something like 90% is minimum acceptable for Asian children, 84% for white children, 78% for latinos, and 68% for black children on the standardized testing in core subjects.

Instead of doing that, they could use this teacher effectiveness score to levelize student performance. Here's how my idea would work: gather teacher effectiveness data for three or four years; then re-assign the teachers — put the most effective (i.e. best) teachers in the underperforming schools and the least effective (i.e. worst) teachers in the superior schools. In very little time your "achievement gap" would be gone.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 12/06/12 - 06:49 pm
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Llamb that is not fair testing imo

It went something like 90% is minimum acceptable for Asian children, 84% for white children, 78% for latinos, and 68% for black children on the standardized testing in core subjects.....
That is saying 68% is the same as 90% or 84%.....also what teachers would want to constantly be moved to non performers..that is enough to make any teacher go to private schools...

We can NOT make everything FAIR---never will imho...it is what it is....my suggestion is take YOUR child to a library---study sessions--computer classes--anything to learn because they WON'T get it in the public system anymore...

kc fan
121
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kc fan 12/06/12 - 07:14 pm
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YF

You said it all when you specified the school system. I taught only 1 year in that sytem and when told they me they had my contract for the following year, I politely said no thanks. I moved to another system. I do applaud your efforts in being an active parent as many students do not have the same support from their parent(s).

Just My Opinion
5253
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Just My Opinion 12/06/12 - 07:27 pm
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I feel that my opinions and

I feel that my opinions and views on this are valid because I have had considerable volunteer time in my children's elementary, middle, and now high schools. I've served as PTO president for 5 terms, room "parent" (not a mother!) for 10 years, office volunteer for 6 years, chaperoned probably 2 dozen field trips including 10 days in Europe, and even taken out the trash and mopped the bathrooms when the school custodians were out sick! So, yeah....I think I know exactly what the teachers are going through, what they are facing, and what they need. Fred, you and I are actually on the same side of this...we both want what's best for the kids. But I'm saying that we should've play this out that the TEACHERS are always the broken factor in the problem. The circumstances and challenges these children presently face are 180 degrees from where we came from.

Young Fred
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Young Fred 12/07/12 - 06:46 am
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Little Lamb – LMAO!!!

Little Lamb – LMAO!!! Wouldn't that just solve everything! The bureaucratic statisticians would have beautiful numbers to report to the executive branch, who would in turn call a news conference, where the AP, UPI, and Reuters could gush about the “effectiveness” of our SuperDuper progressive re-education system (with the obligatory story about stone-ageThinking parents protesting around a flag pole, after a morning prayer).

Just My Opinion - “we both want what's best for the kids. But I'm saying that we should've play this out that the TEACHERS are always the broken factor in the problem.”

Hopefully the child's best interest is foremost in all decisions made. Unfortunately we can't do anything about bad parenting, but we can at least try to do something about bad teachers. Again, unfortunately, where bad teachers are concerned, the "system" tends to circle the wagons like Custer's last stand.

The PTO, tends to be nothing more than a glorified fund-raising arm of the school. I refused to be part of it for a few years, but quickly realized the importance of getting to know teachers and administrators, as well as realizing how much teachers appreciated the help. Nothing can replace having an appreciative teacher “on the side of” your child.

OpenCurtain
10049
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OpenCurtain 12/07/12 - 11:02 am
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Young Fred said

"to say that bad teachers are 2 or 3 per hundred makes me doubt everything you’ve written. Maybe you’ve experience with much better school systems, or maybe our definition of “bad” is miles apart."

Well YF, I locally I attended:
1961-1963- Gracewood Elem and 1 year of downtown Elem school.
1963-1968 - Overseas in British, German, and NATO schools
1968-1973 - Flemming Elem., Gracewood Elem. Hephzibah Jr. High, Sego (Summer school) and Hephzibah High.

In all of those schools, over all those years there were only 3 bad teachers I had or knew of, and believe me, kids talk.

#1
A Gym Teacher at Flemming that was a sadist. He put the cotton gym bags over the heads of the boys and then paddled them for any excuse. He really enjoyed it based on his weird look and grin while doing it every morning or after lunch.

#2
A green as they get, 9th grade teacher, in HJH for sciences. We made small chemical explosives in the class behind him. (They never should have left the chemistry lab material behind when they moved the High School.)

In these 2 cases the Principles Mr. Banks and Mr. Parker worked with them to mend their ways. Neither one was there the next year also.

BTW: Mr. Parker was great practical science teacher.

#3
Then there was a 9th grade substitute English Teacher in HJH. When one of the 2 best teachers I ever had, Mrs. Hawkins, was place on maternity leave. He had Zero classroom experience and was lost walking in the door. The Students ran the class.

So Yes I had or knew of 3 bad pre-college teachers out hundreds over 14 years.

But the AC would have to run a whole special edition for me to list the Problems, Bullies, druggies, Dumb as bricks, type "A" personalities and etc students that have I encountered.

Every student has to work around these to get an education.

But in our society's craze to be Politically Correct and over understanding these growing number of brats that fill our schools. We have ham strung the teachers ability to conduct an education that also teaches responsibility for stupid actions, honor and Societal Etiquette.

Sure there are Bad or Problem teachers, but the growing number of whining parents and students are greater problem also.

Young Fred
15723
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Young Fred 12/07/12 - 02:27 pm
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OpenCurtain

The experience I listed with the school systems were with my children. Thinking back over my personal experience in the public schools, I can think of 7 bad teachers, out of less than 100.

Not bad stats, much less than the 20% I quoted above. Currently my son attends a elementary school (with which I'm very active) in Aiken county. I feel confident in stating that 1 of 5 teachers I'm in contact with are less than average.

I agree with what you've listed as being the major problems (would add something about the quality). And I'm aware of the burdens placed on our teachers, making for a very difficult job.

But I can do nothing about other kid's parents except vote for and support those in favor of allowing schools more leeway when dealing with the problem children.

Just as I can support and vote for those that wish to measure teacher performance. A proper measure would take into account the handicaps placed on teachers. I see nothing in the article that suggest that something so obvious would not be considered.

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