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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Controversial review system resuming for Louisiana teachers

Controversial review system resuming for Louisiana teachers

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana's public schools are restarting an evaluation system that will tie nearly one-third of teachers' annual job reviews to students' standardized test scores in the upcoming school year.

The soon-to-be-revived evaluation system — which impacts about 15,000 of the state's 50,000 public school teachers — had been on hold for four years. It has been sidelined since the 2012-13 school year, during Louisiana's move to tougher academic standards.

The Advocate reports the test score component of the evaluation system remains controversial. The review method was enacted under former Gov. Bobby Jindal and has been used only once.

The review tied to test scores applies to math, English, science and social studies teachers. Under the latest iteration of the evaluation method, 35 percent of a teacher's rating will come from exam scores, 50 percent from traditional observations and 15 percent from student learning targets, which are academic goals agreed to in advance by teachers and principals.

Others teachers, like art and music teachers, will be subject to job reviews split between classroom observations and student learning targets.

The evaluations can keep teachers from earning job security called tenure or can cause them to lose tenure they already have.

Supporters call the evaluations linked to test scores a way to help ensure quality teachers. The idea is to measure the impact a teacher has on student learning by comparing new test scores to previous ones, and determine whether students met expected gains.

"Evaluations are a critical part of overall accountability," said Brigitte Nieland, who follows public school issues for the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry.

The review method, called the Value Added Model, is used in various forms in some other states, not just Louisiana. However, the sponsor of the 2010 state law that requires the method now questions connecting a teacher's annual job review to how students do in the classroom.

"We did it hoping it was going to work, but I am still not convinced it works," said state Rep. Frank Hoffmann, a West Monroe Republican and veteran educator.

Scott Richard, executive director of the Louisiana School Boards Association, said the reviews put teachers in different categories: those whose jobs are and are not linked to test results.

"The whole goal of a school is you have everybody working as a team," Richard said.

Larry Carter, president of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, said many teachers view the job reviews as unfair, in part because student attendance, reading levels and other factors beyond a teacher's control play a role in test results.