Student Growth, a definition to follow.

Since I’m talking about the state’s RTTT application lets look at a piece of that 235 page document that I’m sure our friends from DSEA, and local teachers are interested in. The main point of the RTTT funding is that students in Delaware will see significant changes in Education which many are hoping equates to student improvement. The language in the document talks about measuring this improvement and how it will tie back to state educator’s performance and effectiveness. My biggest problem with this piece of the RTTT document is that it, like many legislative documents, is vague and in the end will cost taxpayers more money.
The opening pages read like this:

“The State, in conjunction with a range of stakeholders, will establish a clear approach to measuring student growth. Under the revised regulations, student growth will be the critical factor for determining teacher and leader effectiveness. The exact definition and measurement of student growth will be determined between January 2010 and July 2011, when the new regulations go into effect. The definition and means for assessing student growth will be determined by the Delaware Secretary of Education and will represent some level of change in achievement data for an individual student between two points in time, as well as any other measures that are determined to be rigorous and comparable across classrooms, in accordance with the new regulations. The Delaware Secretary of Education will consider input from stakeholder groups during this process. The State’s data system already has the information and technical capabilities needed to capture student growth, which will likely be supplemented with contracted support from a value added specialist.”

So if I read this correctly, we have started to define “some level of change”, and the Secretary will be responsible for this definition by July 2011 and want to take a guess as to the stakeholders she will be working with? If you read a little farther the time line for the decision can be seen, but again it still is vague.

“By July 2011, the State will have a single, clear approach for measuring student growth, as part of annual teacher and principal evaluations; all teachers and principals must receive satisfactory student growth to be rated as “effective” or “highly effective”
• Beginning in the 2010-11 school year, all administrators responsible for assessments will receive one-on-one coaching in conducting rigorous annual evaluations.
• By the 2011-12 school year, all LEAs will use the statewide evaluation system to develop, compensate, promote, retain, and remove teachers and principals.
• By the 2011-12 school year, “tenure” will be granted to teachers only if they demonstrate satisfactory student growth for two or more years, and have no more than one year of “ineffective” teaching
• By the end of the 2013-14 school year, 30% of teachers and principals will be rated “highly effective”; 50% rated “effective”; 15% rated “needs improvement”; and only 5% rated “ineffective””

Just a couple of questions, first are state or district RTTT dollars being used to fund this one-on-one training? Second, what about already tenured teachers who don’t demonstrate satisfactory growth? Lastly, why is it ALL students must meet NCLB qualifications by 2014, but Delaware will only have 30% highly effective educators in our schools? Lets look at the measurement tool listed in RTTT that will give us these ratings:
“Delaware’s rigorous statewide educator evaluation system is based on the most respected standards for teaching and leading (Danielson’s A Framework for Teaching and the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium’s standards for leaders). The system provides a multi-measure assessment of performance that incorporates student growth as one of five components. Rather than set a specific percentage that student growth must be weighted in the evaluation, these regulations go much further. They say that an educator can only be rated effective if they demonstrate satisfactory levels of student growth. Thus, the difference between effective and ineffective educators becomes clear – an effective educator is one that achieves satisfactory levels of student growth while an ineffective educator is one that does not. In Delaware, student growth is not one factor among many; instead satisfactory student growth is the minimum requirement for any educator to be rated effective. The law reflects a policy choice: student growth is now considered essential to teacher and leader effectiveness. This improved evaluation system will serve as the basis for building a stronger, more effective cadre of educators by driving professional development, rewards and consequences. Recent revisions to DPAS II will require that teachers and leaders demonstrate satisfactory levels of student growth in order to receive an “effective” rating, and more than a year of student growth to receive a “highly effective” rating. After consulting with stakeholders, including the teachers’ union, the Delaware Secretary of Education will define a rigorous and comparable measure of student growth to be used in educator evaluations starting in the 2011-12 school year.”

Excuse me, but don’t you think the parents, students, boards of education deserve some say as to whether an educator is “effective” or not? I will apologize now to the many excellent teachers I know and work with, but this last line sounds a lot like giving the “fox a key to the hen house”. Then again maybe that’s how you get all those signatures on your MOU? Here is some additional language on the DPAS II grading I found of interest:
“Delaware’s recently revised state regulations regarding DPAS II evaluations: An educator’s summative rating on their evaluation is determined by the educator’s rating on each of five components, one of which is Student Improvement. The summative ratings that are possible for educators are “Ineffective,” “Needs Improvement,” “Effective,” and, under recently enacted regulations, “Highly Effective. Under prior regulations, all five of the components were weighted equally in determining an educator’s summative rating, and the Student Improvement component did not require student growth. The recently-approved regulations maintain the same five components of an educator’s evaluation, but make significant changes to the rating system making student growth the critical factor for determining teacher and leader effectiveness. Rather than set a specific percentage that student growth must be weighed in the evaluation, these regulations go much further. In systems that have student growth as merely a percent of overall teacher rating, it is possible that a teacher could still be rated effective without showing satisfactory levels of student growth. In contrast, Delaware mandates that an educator cannot be rated effective or better unless they have demonstrated satisfactory levels of student growth. In addition, no educator can receive the lowest rating if they show satisfactory levels of student growth. Thus, the regulations reflect a policy choice: An educator simply will not be considered Effective if his/her students are not learning, and an educator will not be considered Ineffective if his/her students are in fact learning. Specifically, the regulations:
• Require that educators show appropriate levels of growth among their students in order for the educator to receive a satisfactory rating on the Student Improvement component;
• Provide that student growth must measure changes in achievement data based on scores on the new statewide assessment for tested subjects and, for both tested and non-tested subjects, other measures of student learning, provided that those measures are rigorous and comparable across classrooms;
• Provide that an educator who receives an unsatisfactory rating on the Student
Achievement component cannot be rated “Effective” on the educator’s summative rating these educators will be rated Needs Improvement or Ineffective, depending on the educator’s rating on the other components;
• Provide that an educator who receives a satisfactory rating on the Student Achievement component will not be rated “Ineffective” on the educator’s summative rating – these educators will be rated Needs Improvement, Effective, or Highly Effective, depending on the educator’s rating on the other components;
• Add a “Highly Effective” summative rating, which requires that the educator’s students show more than one year of growth.

The table below shows how ratings will be assigned under the new DPAS II regulations:
Assigning ratings under DPAS II
Total number of satisfactory component ratings
Rating on student improvement component Summative rating
4 or 5 Satisfactory Highly Effective (also requires >1 year of student growth)
3, 4, or 5 Satisfactory Effective
1 or 2 Satisfactory Needs Improvement
Less than 5 Unsatisfactory Ineffective

These summative ratings are linked to other significant actions, including providing for additional compensation and career options for educators at the top end of the rating system, triggering certain professional development and coaching requirements for teachers in the Needs Improvement or Ineffective categories, and ultimately providing a statutory basis for termination based on performance at the lowest end of the scale. Because of these linkages between an educator’s rating and other critical decisions, changes to the rating system have significant and broad impact. Therefore, the significant strengthening of the link between student achievement and an educator’s rating by necessity strengthens the impact that student achievement has on all of those critical decisions.”

Well it all sounds well and good on paper, but without a clear definition of what is student growth for each student it’s just that words on a paper. By the way what kind of flags are going to go up by the union as its membership faces struggling student growth due to the tough economic times our students/families are facing, and the increased growth of our ESL community?

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About Gary M Wolfe

The Author spent 10 years as a member of the Milford Delaware Board Of Education, and is currently seeking the 18th Senatorial seat in the Delaware Legislature.
This entry was posted in Delaware Politics, Education. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Student Growth, a definition to follow.

  1. Pingback: Student Growth, a definition to follow. (via Education and Community News from Home Town Delaware) « Transparent Christina

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