Creating a teacher evaluation tool linked to student performance has made progress, but more is left to do
Gov. John Kitzhaber's successful 2010 campaign included a half-dozen or so specific promises on how he would reform and improve education in Oregon.
One of those promises included creating "a fair and meaningful teacher/administration evaluation tool linked to student performance and growth."
In following up on the promise, we contacted Rachel Wray, who works in the governor's communications office. She pointed us to Kitzhaber's signing into law Senate Bill 290, which required the State Board of Education to adopt core teaching standards that include evidence of student performance.
The law also requires school districts to ensure that teachers and administrators are evaluated based on those standards. With support and encouragement from the governor, she wrote in an email, "the State Board adopted robust core teaching standards and evaluation requirements."
"In addition, Wray wrote, "Oregon's ESEA (No Child Left Behind) Flexibility Waiver committed the state to ensuring that student achievement is a "significant consideration" in each teacher and administrator's evaluation report.
"In 2012, SB 290 was implemented at 14 pilot districts across Oregon. For the 2013-14 school year, it was implemented in all 197 Oregon school districts." So, added Wray, this was a promise kept.
However, reporting by The Oregonian's Betsy Hammond points to a different outcome. Teachers across the state this year will be observed many times and will be rated on a four-point scale, from not acceptable to proficient. "Teachers also will have to set goals for improving their students' achievement as measured in a way the teacher and principal agreed to, including on tests," Hammond reported. "But during this school year, the student achievement gains won't count toward the teacher's overall rating."
So it won't be until next year, at the earliest, that teacher and administrator evaluations will be undeniably linked to "student performance and growth."
The state, on the strength of a bill sought and signed by Kitzhaber, is working diligently toward linking teacher and administrator evaluations with student performance and gains have definitely been made. We rate the promise a Compromise.
Email from Rachel Wray, Kitzhaber communications office staff, Jan. 31, 2014.
Oregonian news story written by reporter Betsy Hammond, Aug. 16, 2013.