By the start of the 2013–14 school year, Ohio public school districts must adopt new ways of evaluating teachers. Charter schools that get federal Race to the Top funds must do the same.
The big differences between this new system and the ones currently in use include:
- Old system: In general, teacher evaluations are mostly based on a principal or other administrator observing a teacher at work and grading them. Most teachers receive a “satisfactory” rating; a few are rated “unsatisfactory.”
- New system: Half a teacher’s evaluation will be based on an observation, but observers are supposed to grade teachers against a specific set of criteria. Under current law, the other half will be based on how much their students learn over the course of the year. (For some teachers, a controversial measure called “value-added” will be used.) The observation and test-score measures will be combined to give teachers one of four possible grades, from top to bottom: Accomplished, proficient developing, ineffective.
- Old system: Most teachers are evaluated every few years.
- New system: All but the top-rated teachers must be evaluated annually.
- Old system: Few schools used teacher evaluation results in deciding where to place teachers or whether to lay them of or give them raises.
- New system: Local boards of education must adopt policies about how they’ll use evaluation results for promotion and termination decisions. Seniority can not be the basis for teacher retention decisions, except when deciding between teachers who have comparable evaluations.
Click here to learn more about valued-added, a new way that Ohio is using to measure whether teachers provide a year’s worth of learning to their students.
Why are these changes happening?
- A 2009 law said the state’s Educator Standards Board should develop a new and improved way to evaluate Ohio teachers.
- The 2011 state budget required the state Board of Education to approve an evaluation-system outline by the end of 2011. The budget said at least 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation must be based on student academic growth. And it said the evaluation system must also be aligned with the state’s expectations for teachers, require at least two observations of a teacher, and meet other requirements.
- Evaluations are also one part of the reason Ohio school districts got part of $400 million in Race to the Top funds. To receive the federal stimulus money, states had to promise that schools would adopt teacher (and principal) evaluation systems that “differentiate effectiveness using multiple rating categories that take into account data on student growth…as a significant factor, and…are designed and developed with teacher and principal involvement.”
- And to get a waiver from some parts of the No Child Left Behind Act, Ohio had to commit to using a teacher evaluation system that, unsurprisingly, offers more than one rating for teachers, takes student growth (and other measures) into account, and is used to “inform personnel decisions.”