Nevada (Potentially) Dropping Students’ Test Scores from Its Teacher Evaluation System

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This week in Nevada “Lawmakers Mull[ed] Dropping Student Test Scores from Teacher Evaluations,” as per a recent article in The Nevada Independent (see here). This would be quite a move from 2011 when the state (as backed by state Republicans, not backed by federal Race to the Top funds, and as inspired by Michelle Rhee) passed into policy a requirement that 50% of all Nevada teachers’ evaluations were to rely on said data. The current percentage rests at 20%, but it is to double next year to 40%.

Nevada is one of a still uncertain number of states looking to retract the weight and purported “value-added” of such measures. Note also that last week Connecticut dropped some of its test-based components of its teacher evaluation system (see here). All of this is occurring, of course, post the federal passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), within which it is written that states must no longer set up teacher-evaluation systems based in significant part on their students’ test scores.

Accordingly, Nevada’s “Democratic lawmakers are trying to eliminate — or at least reduce — the role [students’] standardized tests play in evaluations of teachers, saying educators are being unfairly judged on factors outside of their control.” The Democratic Assembly Speaker, for example, said that “he’s always been troubled that teachers are rated on standardized test scores,” more specifically noting: “I don’t think any single teacher that I’ve talked to would shirk away from being held accountable…[b]ut if they’re going to be held accountable, they want to be held accountable for things that … reflect their actual work.” I’ve never met a teacher would disagree with this statement.

Anyhow, this past Monday the state’s Assembly Education Committee heard public testimony on these matters and three bills “that would alter the criteria for how teachers’ effectiveness is measured.” These three bills are as follows:

  • AB212 would prohibit the use of student test scores in evaluating teachers, while
  • AB320 would eliminate statewide [standardized] test results as a measure but allow local assessments to account for 20 percent of the total evaluation.
  • AB312 would ensure that teachers in overcrowded classrooms not be penalized for certain evaluation metrics deemed out of their control given the student-to-teacher ratio.

Many presented testimony in support of these bills over an extended period of time on Tuesday. I was also invited to speak, during which I “cautioned lawmakers against being ‘mesmerized’ by the promised objectivity of standardized tests. They have their own flaws, [I] argued, estimating that 90-95 percent of researchers who are looking at the effects of high-stakes testing agree that they’re not moving the dial [really whatsoever] on teacher performance.”

Lawmakers have until the end of tomorrow (i.e., Friday) to pass these bills outside of the committee. Otherwise, they will die.

Of course, I will keep you posted, but things are currently looking “very promising,” especially for AB320.

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3 thoughts on “Nevada (Potentially) Dropping Students’ Test Scores from Its Teacher Evaluation System

  1. Unfortunately, the Democrats lack the numbers to over ride the veto our governor has sworn to use. His chief advisor and hero is Michelle Rhee. He wants student test results to be an even higher percentage of our evaluations. I have already told my administrator that after 25 years I am done, I will not play the test game. I am only 60 and have plenty left, but not under these terms. Nevada is stuck on this and will likely be the last state in the union to let go of this failed notion.

  2. An update for you, the bills you highlighted are dead. It was a noble first step to protect public education, but Nevada has never particularly liked the public schools. Retirees and those on limited or fixed income view them as an expense to be eliminated. Perhaps in a few years with a new governor we can try again. In the mean time I know quite a few teachers, including myself, will be retiring rather than be part of the continuing testing fraud.

    • Dr. Beardsley, thank you for covering our campaign to eliminate the use of student test scores in teacher evaluations in Nevada! Your testimony last Monday was very helpful.

      A quick update from inside the legislature– AB212, our bill to prohibit the use of any student achievement data did not make it out of committee. However, AB320, Speaker Jason Frierson’s bill that reduces the percentage of student achievement data and prohibits the use of student test scores from statewide evaluations (SBAC) in teacher evaluation passed out of committee with 3 Republican votes.

      So a win on teacher evaluations still look promising!

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