The highest achieving elementary school in the state apparently is crawling with bad teachers, according to the new and controversial system for rating teacher effectiveness.

The Advocate reports that preliminary teacher evaluation data from South Highlands Elementary Magnet School in Shreveport is shedding some light on what one state lawmakers says are serious flaws in the teacher evaluation method.

Under the new system, teachers are grouped into one of five categories ranging from highly effective to ineffective, a designation that’s based half on the standardized test scores and academic growth of their students and half on classroom observations. The “value-added” grading system for teachers was signed into law in 2010, but under Gov. Bobby Jindal’s education reform package that sailed through the Legislature in February and March, a teacher will have to be labeled highly effective five out of six years in order to gain tenure:
The crux of the problem, [state Rep. Alan] Seabaugh said, is that the jobs of some teachers could be in jeopardy because even high-scoring students who show drops from the previous year can result in the teachers being rated as ineffective.

Seabaugh said red flags went up when officials at South Highlands, while planning for the change, tried to see how teachers might fare this year by comparing test results from the 2010-11 school year with the 2011-12 school year.

Earlier this year, Seabaugh said, 92 percent of fourth-graders at the school scored at the highest or second highest level in English on the LEAP test, 89 percent in math, 85 percent in social studies and 84 percent in science.

But all three fourth-grade teachers who received ratings were judged to be “highly ineffective” and among the lowest performing teachers in the state, Seabaugh said.

“This is nothing short of ridiculous,” said Seabaugh, R-Shreveport, in an Oct. 2 email to education officials around the state.
State Education Superintendent John White tells The Advocate that he believes the South Highlands evaluation problem may be a unique situation, but he’s planning to meet with teachers there Oct. 18.

Read the full story here.

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