Starting in 2015, teachers’ success will be directly tied to the achievements of those in their classroom.
Most of the 900 written comments submitted to the board came from teachers and public educators who were critical of the changes. They said it’s unfair to judge teachers on the basis of standardized tests.
The state said that standardized testing won’t be the only assessment used. Under the new rules, school districts can choose two to four assessments that will measure students’ over-all growth.
One concern all parties share is how students’ lives outside the classroom affect their test scores – and in turn, the teachers’ evaluations.
“I would hope that the school districts would take into consideration those circumstances and have an opportunity for a teacher to review methods and procedures,” said Ron Ruhrer, President of NEA-Alaska, the largest teachers union in the state.
Teachers worry about struggles in students’ lives outside of school, such as the effects of poverty and malnutrition. But the state argues the new plan will be a measure of the students’ starting point – no matter the circumstances – and their growth.
“Even in the most difficult situations or even with learners who struggle the most, all of us would expect growth to occur at some level,” said Les Morse, Deputy Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development.
When the new rules go into effect in 2015, teacher evaluations will be based on a formula of 20 percent of the students’ educational growth. However, each year brings a 10 percent increase, with the 2018-2019 school year seeing 50 percent of teachers' evaluation based on student achievement.