Louisiana: Another State “Rethinking” Its Teacher Evaluation System

Recall from a prior post that lawmakers, particularly in the southern states, are beginning to reconsider the roles that test scores and value-added measures should play in their states’ teacher evaluation systems. The tides do seem to be turning. See also a related post about lawmakers in Alabama “shelving” their new teacher accountability system here, and a related article about how in Georgia their new teacher evaluation systems is being “overhauled” here.

As per a news article released out of Louisiana just this week, it seems Louisiana is following suit. Apparently, the Louisiana Senate Education Committee is advancing a bill (i.e., Senate Bill 342) to “revise” its teacher evaluation system as well (see here). This “heavily negotiated” bill, backed by Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, is to also seriously “tweak” the way teachers are to be evaluated throughout the state. The bill already has big “easy approval,” passing in the Louisiana Senate Education Committee without objection, facing next the full Louisiana Senate.

Under current rules, 50% of a teacher’s evaluation is to based on growth or value-added in student achievement over time. Under the new rules this is to be cut back to 35%, as currently applied to approximately 20,000 of Louisiana’s 50,000 teachers (40% of the state’s teacher population).

While some might like the percentage reduced to an even lower percentage than 35%, this still seems to be at least one step in the right direction. Whether high-stakes consequences will still be attached to such output, along with the observational and other testing data to account for the other 65%, is to be seen. This would certainly be a step in the wrong direction, unless the state can demonstrate system reliability, validity, fairness, and the like (see definitions here), prior to the attachment of such consequences.

In that regard, sometimes it doesn’t matter what (arbitrary) weights are applied to this or that, it is what is done with the output overall that matters the most. This also seems to be increasingly “true” in legal terms.

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