Georgia teacher rating system too easy

ATLANTA -- The state’s new teacher evaluation system needs some work. That’s the lesson Georgia education leaders are drawing from a pilot study that unexpectedly showed only a tiny fraction of the state’s teachers are ineffective.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says a report from the state Department of Education found ratings of about 5,800 teachers in last year’s pilot study “skewed to the positive,” with less than 1 percent of teachers classified as ineffective and one in five getting the top rating of exemplary.

State officials say they expect more realistic outcomes as teachers and principals are better trained and have more time to adapt to the new evaluation system, which is to roll out statewide in the 2014-2015 school year.

Georgia is spending millions of dollars from its federal Race to the Top grant on the new evaluation system, which is meant eventually to showcase good teachers and root out bad ones by tying teachers’ ratings to their students’ academic success.

Senate Education Committee Chairman Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody, said the preliminary results — particularly the finding that less than 1 percent of teachers are unsatisfactory — raise serious questions.

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