The District of Columbia district won't use its "value added" test-score-based algorithm for measuring teacher effectiveness for the 2014-15 school year, in an effort to make sure its transition to new, common-core-aligned tests goes smoothly, the district announced today.
About 14 percent of teachers work in the grades in which such data are generated—in English/language arts from grades 4-10 and in math from grades 4-8. They count for 35 percent of those teachers' overall evaluation rating, with the bulk coming from classroom observations, nonstandardized measures of student achievement, and a gauge of their collaboration with colleagues, parental engagement, and professionalism. Under the change, the classroom observations will take the place of the value-added scores.
The pause will last for only one year as D.C. transitions to the exams created by the federally funded Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.
"We want those teachers to know up front that those challenges are not going to impact their evaluations," D.C. Chancellor Kaya Henderson said in a call with reporters. "We are still committed to using value-added, which is why this is just a one-year change."
Teachers will still receive the value-added data informally, but it won't play into their ratings. The change will not affect school ratings, officials said.
Henderson disputed the suggestion that the change was made because of the potential for lower student scores on the PARCC tests. While "there is the potential for scores to be very different than they have been," she said, "there are lots of unknowns and I want my teachers focused on teaching, not on whether the hiccups that come with implementing a new test are going to impact their livelihood."
Meanwhile, Henderson said that the district has shared its plan with the U.S. Department of Education. The agency has tussled with several states with ESEA waivers because they've had problems meetings its deadline for putting in evaluation systems, or integrating the test-score-based component.
UPDATED, 2:43 p.m.: The New America Foundation's Anne Hyslop reminds everyone that, even with a pause, D.C. is far ahead of other states in implementing its teacher-evaluation system.