State recipients of Race to the Top grants are having differing degrees of success with what has turned out to be one of the toughest tasks required by the Obama administration’s marquee competitive-grant program: crafting new teacher evaluations that take student performance into account, according to a report released last week by the Government Accountability Office.
Sustaining the new evaluation systems is going to be a tall order, nearly all Race to the Top states reported. But overall, the report found, most Race to the Top states are happy with the level of support they’re getting from the U.S. Department of Education.
The GAO also found:
- By the end of the 2012-13 school year, six of the 12 recipients of a piece of the original $4 billion Race to the Top fund had fully implemented their teacher- and principal-evaluation systems. Those at full implementation are: Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Tennessee. Three of those six met the actual target date specified in their application, while the other three were given extensions so they could improve their systems.
- The other six recipients—Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and Ohio—are at least partway there, the watchdog for Congress found.
- States still piloting evaluation systems are at different stages of the game. For instance, 30 percent of Hawaii’s teachers are using the new system, while just 14 percent of teachers in participating Race to the Top districts in Maryland are involved in the pilot.
In addition, officials in eight of the 12 states had a tough time figuring out how to hold teachers in nontested subjects accountable for student growth, and 11 states noted that it’s been tough to address teachers’ concerns about the new systems and the fast pace of change.
Carrying on the new evaluation systems after the Race to the Top grants are finished in coming years is going to be difficult, most of the grant winners say.
U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, asked for the report last year.
A version of this article appeared in the September 25, 2013 edition of Education Week as RTT States’ Success on Teacher Evaluation Varied