Candidate Forum: Laurie Halverson on Evaluating Educators

Written by: Laurie Halverson
  1. Evaluating Educators.MCPS has gone its own way in Maryland on teacher evaluation.  It did not participate in the Race to the Top (RttT) grant that would have given MCPS funds in exchange for implementing a test-based teacher evaluation system.  Now, the state superintendent may require MCPS to adopt MSDE’s requirement that 50% of a teachers’ evaluation be determined by test scores. Would you support MCPS standing its ground or should it become more aligned with the state’s approach?  Would you support the new proposal in MCPS to have student, teacher and principal feedback as part of teacher, principal and associate superintendent evaluation, respectively?

 

Laurie Halverson is long-time resident of Montgomery County, parent and PTA leader  for over 10 years. running for Board of Education District 3.

 

Response

Though I do support testing as one element of input to teacher evaluations, I do not agree with the state that teacher evaluations should be based 50% on test scores.  The goal is to provide balanced and fair evaluations based on the individual and professional objectives set out for each teacher. I believe it is better achieved by including feedback from students, teachers, principals and appropriate administrative staff in addition to testing to provide the best analysis of competence.

 

I have two concerns regarding professional reviews heavily weighted on test results.  First, each year any given class will be made up of a wide range of students; some much less ready to learn than others. Expecting all students to achieve at the same rate is not equitably meeting students where they are, and judging their teachers on this same inflexible model is similarly unfair. Secondly, nearly half of the states that first committed to PARCC tests have withdrawn leaving only 12 states plus D.C., which indicates to me that there is an uncertain future for PARCC tests. I have reservations about using a test that the “jury is still out” on whether it will accurately measure learning.

Though Maryland’s Department of Education agreed in 2010 that teacher evaluations would be based 50% on test scores, MCPS disagreed and therefore decided to forego seeking the “Race to the Top” grants.  MCPS legally declined to seek these grants, has not been a recipient of any of these funds, and so should not now be bound by their parameters.

The 2015 teacher contract does include a proposal to include student, teacher, principal and associate superintendent feedback as part of the evaluation. According to a recent NY Times article, there is significant value in student feedback and this is a concept I strongly support.  (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/04/technology/students-grade-teachers-and-a-start-up-harnesses-the-data.html?_r=0). Finally, I also would like to see parent feedback added to the evaluation process for teachers and principals. Parents and students can provide valuable insight on teacher and principal performance.

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