HISD Superintendent Terry Grier has gotten approval from the HISD Board of Trustees to implement a plan that would allow for the dismissal of teachers whose students don’t make enough progress on standardized tests.
Data provided by HISD show that, over the last three years, 421 teachers have gotten far lower-than-expected progress from their students on standardized tests. That represents about 12 percent of the teachers the policy could affect and 3 percent of all teachers in the district.
“Don’t forget that we have approximately 13,000 teachers in HISD,” Grier said. “The vast majority are doing a good job.”
Some of the teachers may have poor scores in one subject but rate highly in another. In those cases, Grier has suggested that principals could switch teaching assignments instead of turning to termination.
The district only tracks the individual performance of teachers in grades three through 8 in the subjects of math, science, social studies and language arts. These 3,500 or so teachers would be the ones affected by HISD’s plan to include so-called value-added scores in formal job evaluations and as a potential reason for dismissal.
Standardized test data is not available for teachers of lower grades or elective classes. High school teachers get rated on the performance of their entire department, such as math or science.
More here and here. The unions object to this for a variety of reasons, including a lack of clarity about how the policy is to be applied; principals, who would be responsible for recommending that a teacher be fired, are also concerned about that. I certainly agree that at the very least, the process needs to be very specific about what conditions can lead to termination, and what remediating steps can be taken and must be taken to head it off. I confess, while I agree with this idea in principle, I have problems with basing it all on standardized test scores. There is, or at least there should be, more to education and evaluating teachers than that, not to mention the fact that it seems unfair to subject only a fraction of the teacher population to this condition. Of course, moving evaluations away from standardized test scores necessarily makes them more subjective, and thus harder to quantify and codify as processes. I don’t know what if any method would be best, but I do hope we intend to evaluate the process itself on a yearly basis, to see if it actually works as intended, and I hope we have the courage to admit it and do something about it if it does not. School Zone has more, and be sure to see this FAQ posted by HISD about the “Value Added” scores.
UPDATE: Hair Balls has more.