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Duncan Calls for Multiple Measures in Evaluation

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Education Secretary Arne Duncan made a particular point yesterday of underscoring that teacher evaluations should be based on "multiple measures" that would include student achievement alongside other factors, such as peer evaluations.

He was speaking at conference here in Washington for state officials hosted by the National Comprehensive Center on Teacher Quality.

Frankly, the multiple-measures comment shouldn't come as a big surprise if you've been paying attention. A number of other ED officials have made the same point in other forums. But a lot of the state officials told me they were nevertheless glad to hear the message. They noted that the Race to the Top proposed criteria make a big deal about incorporating student achievement as a "significant" factor in evaluations but are silent about what other measures could or should be included.

Perhaps all of those comments worrying about whether value-added is ready for prime-time hit home at the Education Department. If I were a betting man, I'd wager that the final Race to the Top guidelines will retain the requirements that test scores be factored in evaluations, but also make some recognition of the fact that they shouldn't be the sole measure for rating a teacher.

Duncan did stress, though, that the student-achievement element is the one that's missing from most evaluation systems. "We don't look at student work at all, we're a zero there," he said.

He demurred when asked whether he could point to a model evaluation system: "I'm hesitant to call one out because people think that that's it."

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten must be doing a victory lap around her office about now. She's been expounding upon the multiple-measures theme for months.

(Weingarten's stance on this issue has developed, too. Last year around this time she was adamant that "we have a moral, statistical, and educational reason" not to use test scores in evaluations. Now, her union is helping to fund projects to explore how it might be done fairly.)

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I suppose it makes the courtship-style negotiations of the Department of Education and AFT more dramatic and glamorous, but I think Mr. Sawchuk infers an acrimony that does not truly exist. It appears to me that two, mature entities are actually engaging in some honest and constructive compromise. It's good to see.

Duncan concedes the obvious - but offers nothing on multiple sources of evidence of student learning to feed into the evaluation process, as AFT, NEA, Board on Testing and Assessment (BOTA), FairTest and many others have called for. Will Duncan make clear that use of student scores should be a modest part of the evaluation (there are no limits in the draft requirement, just the term 'significant part')? Will he call for multiple measures of student learning and finally back that, as Obama promised on the campaign trail? Will he back off from the not-ready-for-prime-time 'value added' approach? Etc.

Excellent piece. I love the phrase, "not yet ready for prime time" to describe the inclusion of value-added measures in teacher evaluations.

Also interesting in this morning's Washington Post, Jay Matthews notes that George Parker, President of the Washington (DC) Teacher Union, is apprehensive about what Michelle Rhee already has up and running in the District's schools. "Fifty percent of each teacher’s rating will be based on how much their students improve over last year on the D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System test when compared to the average gain of a similar mix of students district-wide."

In the article Parker continues, "I have been sending the plan to experts around the country, however, and they are more optimistic than I expected."

It should also be noted that Tennessee, home state to the developer of VAMs, William Sanders, currently uses student tests as eight percent in a teacher's evaluation.

How will Elective / Creative Arts -Physical Education Teachers be evaluated? They are not the one's held responsible for student achievement in the core courses that are assessed.

Universities have been using multiple criteria in their reward systems for years. Never easy to measure but essential to tell faculty what is expected of them and set high standards.

My candidates for some of the criteria: teacher absences on Friday and Monday; principal's ratings(good, well-trained principals know); evaluation by outside experts of lesson plans and other similar material; attendance at voluntary professional development sessions; student ratings.

It's always good to see multiple measures proposed. Could this be a gateway to multiple measures for students?

When several students walk in and say" I can get an F in your class and still be promoted to the next grade", how can any reasonable thinking adult believe it is fair to base an evaluation on test scores?
In my school, bye the way, this is the norm and not the exception!

I agree with Education Secretary Arne Duncan. The performance of the teachers should be evaluated on the real progress of their students. Teacher's evaluation should be made quarterly basis instead of annualy.

I totally agree that teachers should be evaluated on a range of measures. No single "score" can possibly show the "whole picture."

Of course, I feel exactly the same way about student evaluations. A single number derived from a standardized test on a single day or week may offer a partial snapshot of one aspect (typically, the student's ability to interpret multiple choice questions and regurgitate facts) of the student's capabilities at that time, but it rarely offers true insight into how well the school is equipping him/her for life.

I'd prefer a "portfolio approach" to assessing the performance of both teachers AND students! That would come much closer to giving an accurate evaluation on which to build.

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