Sep 03, 2013

Evaluator ratings align with district rates of student achievement and improvement

BATON ROUGE, La – The Department of Education today released a report on Louisiana’s first year of statewide administrator, teacher, and counselor evaluation, showing that overall results per school district correspond with the improvement students are experiencing in those districts. The tool evaluators used, called Compass, was created by Act 54 of the 2010 Regular Legislative Session as a result of past tools’ failure to provide educators with accurate guidance on their performance.

Before Compass, nearly 99 percent of educators in Louisiana received a one-size-fits-all rating of “satisfactory.” After the passage of Act 54, the Compass system was developed by a committee of educators, union leaders, and policymakers. After a ten district pilot during the 2011-2012 school year, this past school year marked the first year of statewide implementation. Half of administrators’, teachers’, and counselors’ ratings were based on student learning from one year to the next, as determined by a combination of statistical data and the educator’s student learning targets. Half of the evaluation was based on observations of school leadership or classroom teaching.

Classroom teachers’ final ratings ranged from 32 percent of teachers rated as Highly Effective and 57 percent rated as Effective Proficient to 8 percent of teachers rated Effective Emerging and 4 percent rated Ineffective.  School leaders’ ratings ranged from 28 percent Highly Effective and 61 percent Effective Proficient to 9 percent of leaders rated Effective Emerging and 2 percent Ineffective.

 “This is a great accomplishment for our state. I want to say thank you to the educators and leaders who worked so hard to make this first year of using Compass statewide so successful,” said State Superintendent John White. “The increase in focused feedback Louisiana educators received this year will pay great dividends for our students. The alignment between student progress results and the evaluation results shows the rigor with which many school and district leaders approached this process. We have changes to make, but for the first year, we should be very proud."

“The use of the NIET instructional rubric along with the tracking of individual student learning targets as a part of the components of Compass have given us multiple data points to provide support and feedback to our teachers and thus continue to dramatically improve outcomes for all students,” said Dr. Patrice Pujol, Superintendent of Ascension Parish Schools.

Beyond providing a comprehensive summary of districts’ and schools’ use of the Compass tool, the report details important trends:

Evaluators’ Ratings Align with Student Achievement and Improvement.

Unlike in past years, evaluation results for administrators and teachers generally align with student progress and achievement results in school districts.  For example:

  • Of the ten parishes with the highest percentage of teachers rated in the top two levels, seven were in the state’s top 25 percent in student progress or student achievement.  All are in the top half of districts in terms of student achievement.
  • On average, parishes in the top 50 percent in terms of student progress rated 10 percent of teachers in the bottom two categories. Parishes in the bottom 50 percent of student proficiency growth rated, on average, 17 percent of teachers in the bottom two categories.
  • Of the ten parishes with the highest percentage of teachers rated in the bottom two categories, nine were in the bottom quartile in student progress or student achievement. 
  • Of the ten parishes with the highest percentage of teachers rated Ineffective, seven experienced an aggregate drop in student proficiency.

Districts Making Significant Progress with Low-income Students Set a High Bar for Classroom Teaching Excellence in Observations.

Some districts that achieved high levels of growth in 2012-2013 used classroom observations to set a particularly high bar for teaching quality, giving educators increased feedback and room to improve. This was particularly evident in districts that made gains with low-income students, implying a link between the rigor of classroom observations and student progress in challenging settings.

  • Evaluators in the Recovery School District (RSD) in New Orleans, where the district ranked in the 97th percentile in terms of student progress, set a high bar and were less likely to assign highly effective observation scores: 9 percent in the RSD versus 27 percent statewide.
  • St. Bernard Parish ranked in the 96th percentile in student growth and in the 88th percentile in terms of student achievement. The parish also had the highest percentage of teachers with value-added scores in the top two levels (81 percent).  Evaluators were less likely to assign Highly Effective observation scores, though: 8 percent in St. Bernard Parish versus 27 percent statewide.
  • East Feliciana Parish ranked in the 94th percentile in terms of student growth yet assigned substantially more rigorous observation scores. East Feliciana evaluators assigned 64 percent of teachers Proficient or Highly Effective observation ratings compared to 90 percent statewide. 
  • Ascension Parish student progress ranked in the state’s top quartile, but because of a very high bar for classroom teaching, 6 percent of observations yielded a Highly Effective measure, compared to a statewide average of 27 percent.

Compass Evaluators Should Strive For a High Bar for Teaching Excellence.

In the second year of using the tool, Compass evaluators should seek a high bar for school leadership and teaching excellence. In the first year, evaluators’ classroom observation scores and student learning target scores were not as rigorous in their distribution as were value-added scores. Additionally, evaluator rigor varied from district to district, especially in classroom and school leadership observation, implying a need for common expectations from one school and district to the next.

To support leaders and teachers as they use the Compass tool, the Department will:

  • Continue accountability guidelines. Differences in how the tool is used from parish to parish validate the continued need for stringent accountability guidelines, as with the current requirement that very low student progress results definitively lead to lower ratings. 
  • Provide additional tools and enhancements. In order to create a common understanding of teaching excellence, videos are located in the online Instructional Video Library. Additional videos will be added in October and throughout the school year.
  • Increase support and feedback. The Department has adjusted the school leader observation tool to be more specific in its expectation for principals to provide frequent, specific feedback to teachers. The state’s Network Teams, led by former Louisiana administrators will provide support to administrators in setting a high bar for teaching excellence.
  • Improve technology. As a result of educator feedback, the Department will make the online classroom observation tool easier to use and more flexible, allowing administrators to spend more time in the classroom and reflecting with teachers.

What National Education Leaders Are Saying About Louisiana’s Progress:

“Three years ago, Louisiana had one of the most deserving applications for a federal Race to the Top grant and somehow wound up out of the money,” said Tim Daly, President of The New Teacher Project, a national non-profit working to end educational inequality.  “But instead of quitting on its efforts to improve schools, Louisiana has accomplished more in a short time without a big federal influx than many of the winning Race to the Top states.  To have a modernized system for teacher evaluation implemented statewide this quickly is remarkable.”

"Teachers are the most important factor in student achievement, and Louisiana is leading the way in providing the type of professional support that educators and school leaders need to continue to improvement and make a real difference for kids. This report shows a continued commitment to high performance and to supporting local communities in this important work,” said Chris Minnich, Executive Director of the Council of Chief State School Officers.

“Louisiana is a national leader in providing teachers with the opportunity to receive professional development and feedback. This report shows that much has been accomplished during the first year of implementing a statewide evaluation system and provides much promise for the future,” said Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality. 

  • To read the final Compass report, please click here.
  • Please click here for district-level data and click here for school-level data.
  • For district level summaries, please click here.
  • To learn more about the Compass tool and the final report, please click here to view a summary PowerPoint presentation.

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