Teachers' evaluations tied to students' test scores

by: Michelle Linn Updated:

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OWASSO, Okla. —

The stakes will be even higher for teachers, when students take standardized tests this year.

A new law will factor students' test scores into teachers' annual performance evaluations.

Some district leaders tell FOX23 the change could make it tougher to recruit and retain quality educators.

35% of a teacher's evaluation score will be based on measuring what value the instructor added to the instruction of the child.

The "value added measurement" will not be determined by comparing individual students' year-to-year growth.

Instead of looking at a third grade English score, and comparing that to a student's fourth grade English score, Mathematica, the company hired by the State Department of Education, will look at a student's growth compared to a peer group of students across the state.

"The implication I see through a lot of this is that teachers aren’t already doing the best they can with the students they’re working with," said Owasso Assistant Superintendent David Hall.

Hall says his biggest problem with the new system is that Mathematica admits the system has a 20% margin of error.

The company admits this measurement is only 80% reliable.

"Anybody that’s taken statistics will tell you it needs to be at least 95% to 97% to be valid and reliable," said Hall.

We discussed other potential problems.

Where will that 35% of a teacher's performance evaluation come from, for teachers who teach subjects like art or music, which are not state tested?

What if first year teachers wind up getting stuck with all of the students who test poorly?

What if a middle schooler doesn't like his teacher and sandbags the test?

But Hall says perhaps the biggest issue is that so much of a teacher's evaluation is based on factors outside of their control.

"It’s all on the teacher.  It’s all their fault if somebody doesn’t achieve, and last I checked you can’t force anybody to learn, because it’s either they’re cooperating with you or they’re not, said Hall.

Hall tells FOX23 other states, like Texas, have backed away from the system, because of reliability issues.