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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: teacher evaluation

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August 7, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Should state sue Arne Duncan to get No Child waiver back?

Bill Keim

Bill Keim

The executive director of the association that represents Washington school superintendents says Washington state should challenge the revocation of the state’s waiver from the No Child Left Behind law in federal court.

In April, Washington became the first state in the country to lose its waiver when state lawmakers decided against mandating the use of state test scores in teacher evaluations.

In his group’s August newsletter, Executive Director Bill Keim tells the members of the Washington Association of School Administrators that he’s long been concerned about the “unfettered federal intervention into what used to be the states’ domain — operating our public schools.”

Which is why Keim likes the idea of challenging the waiver revocation in federal court, an idea floated last month by Michael Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education policy group based in Washington D.C.


Comments | More in News | Topics: Bill Keim, No Child Left Behind, teacher evaluation

July 25, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Teacher quality and test scores: Recent studies raise questions

As we reported earlier this week, the standoff continues between our state and the feds over the use of student test scores in teacher evaluations.

The U.S. Department of Education continues to insist that test scores should play some role in teacher evaluations. Washington lawmakers have refused to require school districts to do so and, as a result, lost the state’s waiver from the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

This week, the feds refused Washington’s request to get back a piece of that waiver — the part that would have saved schools from having to send letters home saying they have failed — as most other schools in the nation have failed — to ensure that all students were proficient in reading and math this year.

So what about the substance of the argument? Are test scores a valid indicator of a teacher’s effectiveness?


Comments | More in News | Topics: teacher evaluation, teacher quality, test scores

June 25, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Eight teachers, eight struggles with measuring student growth

Take eight certified teachers, all with a prestigious advanced teaching credential, and ask them to tell stories about how they measure student growth in their classrooms  a requirement of the state’s new teacher evaluation system.

These are some of our most accomplished instructors  teachers who care a lot about how much their students learn. Yet most admit that, at first, they tried to game the system or find an easy, if meaningless, way to show growth.

As Lindsey Stevens, a high school teacher in Sumner, put it:

Teachers were literally joking (I hope) about grading everything ridiculously hard the first time, and then just being easier on the kids the next time. They would say, write your goal in a way you can’t go wrong, then no matter what happens you look like a rock star.


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Comments | More in News | Topics: Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession, student growth, teacher evaluation

November 4, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Not many teachers can be evaluated using state test scores

Paul Tong / Op Art

Paul Tong / Op Art

School districts across Washington state are starting to evaluate teachers and principals in new, more rigorous ways.  Not surprisingly, that’s not easy.

Rather than simply rating teachers and principals as satisfactory or unsatisfactory, districts are using a four-level scale and, for the first time, must include student academic growth as a significant part of those evaluations.

Just how to do that well? A panel last week at the University of Washington made it clear that question is far from settled.

There’s wide agreement that student learning should be part of teacher and principal evaluations, and that such growth can’t be measured by any one test. The question is: What should be part of the equation?  Classroom assignments/tests?  District ones? State exams given at the end of a school year? And how much weight should any of these receive?


Comments | More in News | Topics: Chris Korsmo, Joe Willhoft, Justin Fox-Bailey

October 31, 2013 at 3:44 PM

Are new teachers getting smarter? UW study finds increase in SAT scores, GPA

SAT scores and other measures of academic success could be on the rise for teachers just entering the workforce, according to a new study from University of Washington, Bothell, researchers Dan Goldhaber and Joe Walch.

The finding appears in the most recent issue of Harvard University’s Education Next Journal under the headline “Gains in teacher quality.” Goldhaber and Walch assert that long-standing concern about U.S. teachers’ academic proficiency may be overstated, pointing to a 5-percentile point gain on new teachers’ SAT scores between 1993-94 and 2008-09.


Comments | More in News | Topics: SAT scores, teacher evaluation, teacher training