Georgia’s New Teacher Evaluation System Problematic in Pilot

The trial run of Georgia’s new teacher assessment system is not returning the results that lawmakers and education experts were hoping for, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. According to preliminary results made available earlier this month, only a small percentage of teachers evaluated under the new system were found to be performing below par – making [...]

The trial run of Georgia’s new teacher assessment system is not returning the results that lawmakers and education experts were hoping for, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. According to preliminary results made available earlier this month, only a small percentage of teachers evaluated under the new system were found to be performing below par – making observers skeptical that those who are administering new evaluations were doing so correctly.

The pilot covered about 5,800 teachers from around the state, and fewer than 1% received the worst scores while nearly 20% were graded as exemplary – the highest score possible. According to state education officials, this is a strong indication that the way the program is being implemented needs to be adjusted to make sure that the outcomes are realistic by the time it rolls out to the entire state during the 2014-2015 academic year.

Fran Millar, the chair of the Senate Education Committee, pointed out that the low percentage of poorly performing teachers identified in the pilot doesn’t make sense in light of the student achievement data compiled over the past few years.

Teachers in DeKalb, Gwinnett, Cherokee, Clayton, Henry and 21 other school districts participated in the pilot program, which ran from January to May 2012 and resulted in 0.32 percent of teachers being classified as ineffective, 5.95 percent as developing/needs improvement, 74.4 percent as proficient and 19.3 percent as exemplary, according to a state Department of Education report obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution under the Georgia Open Records Act.

However, the numbers might seem out of whack because the ones released by the Georgia DOE don’t include the largest component of the new system – standardized test results. The formula that derives ratings from the scores is still being studied and fine-tuned. Education officials say that those numbers will be released later in the year.

The new teacher evaluations are only one of the major changes currently shaking up the state’s education system. Another proposal recently released to the public – and authored by Georgia’s Chamber of Commerce – calls for a complete overhaul of the way schools are funded by putting more power over money allocated towards education by the state into the hands of individual districts and even directly with the schools.

The individual school board or principal would control financing and have the power to offer larger paychecks to attract and retain sought-after teachers, make decisions on what supplies to purchase for classrooms and determine overall school material needs. Currently, only the state can make such changes and it must make them for all schools in the state. That process has been in use for 27 years and advocates of the proposal say that’s long enough.

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