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Report: 4 Race to Top States Lag in Teacher Evaluations

By Michele McNeil — October 26, 2011 2 min read
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A new report by the National Council on Teacher Quality calls out four Race to the Top states for so far not delivering high-quality, ambitious teacher-evaluation plans: Georgia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and North Carolina.

The report praises 17 states plus D.C.—a list that includes all eight of the remaining Race to the Top winners—for adopting through law or regulation ambitious teacher evaluation policies that include “objective evidence of student learning and mandate student achievement and/or student growth will ‘significantly’ inform or be the preponderant criterion” for evaluations. (The nine non-Race to the Top states that made the leader list are: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, and Oklahoma.)

For a good overview of other findings from the report, read Teacher Beat.

So why didn’t those four Race to the Top winners make the list? According to the report:

• Georgia’s teacher-evaluation plan is limited to just 26 of the state’s 181 total districts. (Although you can fault Georgia for not having a statewide teacher evaluation system, you can’t fault them for not delivering on their Race to the Top promises because the state’s participating districts are also limited to those 26. So they didn’t promise to deliver a plan statewide.)

• North Carolina’s new standard that requires teachers to contribute to the academic success of students is too vague, and doesn’t result in a performance rating for teachers.

• Massachusetts’ new regulations do not require student performance measures to be a “significant” factor in teacher evaluations. And, the regulations leave too much discretion and too many details to individual evaluators to choose student achievement measures and make decisions about what constitutes satisfactory student growth.

• Hawaii seems to get the biggest slam. “Unfortunately,” the report says, “there are also RTT winners, such as Hawaii, with little or no legislative or regulatory changes to show for its promises regarding great teachers and leaders.” It adds later that Hawaii’s promise to redesign its system “hasn’t materialized in any significant way.”

This probably isn’t (or shouldn’t be) news to the U.S. Department of Education, which is charged with holding states accountable for the promises they made to win a combined $4 billion. Implementing the teacher-evaluation component, which carried the most points in the competition and resulted in some of the biggest promises, is one of the toughest challenges for Race to the Top states. The report’s conclusions about Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Hawaii seem especially troubling, and as we inch toward the half-way point in the four-year Race to the Top grant period, more people are going to start to demanding that the department get tough with problem states.

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