Eye on Education

Ohio Teachers’ Union Turns the Table and Evaluates State Reps

Ohio State Rep. Bruce Goodwin (R, Goodwin) is one of the top-ranked state reps, by one teacher union group's measure.

An Ohio teachers’ union is turning the tables on the state lawmakers who were part of the push to change how public school teachers are evaluated in a sign of the tension some educators feel over changes in how they are judged.

Ohio’s new model for teacher evaluations — which will be in place in all school districts by the start of the 2013-14 school year — calls for half of each teacher’s evaluation to be based on student performance. The rest is supposed to be based on other factors, including classroom observations, professional growth and relationships with parents and students. Teachers will be rated on a four-level scale ranging from “Accomplished” at the top to “Ineffective” at the bottom.

The Central Ohio Education Association/National Education Association (a district organization of the Ohio Education Association) used that model to draw up its own tongue-in-cheek model for evaluating the state representatives who signed off on its creation. The GradeMyRep.com website shows the results:

Rep. Bruce W. Goodwin (R, Defiance), for example, is the top-ranked representative with the top grade of “Accomplished.” (Goodwin also happens to have worked in education for nearly 40 years.) Farther down the rankings, Rep. Mike Dovilla (R, Berea) gets the lowest ranking and the bottom grade of “Ineffective.” House Speaker William Batchelder (R, Medina) is number 37 on the list of 59, with a grade of “Developing,” the rough equivalent of a “C.”

The union’s rankings are based on how unemployment rates, crime stats and school ratings in each rep’s district changed over the course of his/her term, plus how many readers online give them a thumbs-up or thumbs down.

Central OEA/NEA’s Russell Hughlock explains in an email why the union group built the site:

The idea of the site is to first help educate around the complex issues of evaluations, but also draw attention to legislators and their policy making. Secondarily, if we can mirror what legislators have created for teachers and have it apply it to them, perhaps they may recognize the impact some of their policy ideas can have on people and their professions and perhaps they will be more contemplative and collaborative going forward, especially if the public is more versed in some of the actual details of those policies.

Ohio teachers’ unions are walking a fine line in the discussion of new ways of evaluating teachers. On one hand, Ohio Education Association spokesperson Michele Prater says in an email:

OEA believes [Ohio's teacher evaluation] model includes many of the principles we believe are crucial in a properly constructed evaluation system, e.g., created collaboratively  with teachers and bargained collectively; designed to recognize good teaching and structured to help teachers improve; based in Ohio’s standards for the teaching profession; and includes fair and just processes.

And OEA has been involved in the development of the teacher evaluation model, Prater says:

The Ohio Department of Education has actively sought input from OEA and other professional organizations. OEA members serve with other educators on the Educator Standards Board, which has provided input for several years; and OEA members also had input through working committees and participation in pilots in selected districts throughout Ohio.

On the other hand, OEA and many individual teachers are concerned that the new evaluation model relies heavily on value-added data, which is essentially a statistical measure of how much a teacher’s students learn over the course of one year, regardless of what the students know at the start of the year.

As StateImpact Ohio commenter Charlie44266 wrote earlier:

A teacher can “teach” her heart out and her students still do poorly on standardized tests of a few subjects. They do poorly because their community is a mess, their parents are unemployed or underemployed, the state hasn’t provided enough funds to have a decent infrastructure, etc. Where do these factors come into the teacher ratings?


  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patsy-Nomore/100003129642483 Patsy Nomore

    While I agree urban schools have problems,most kids are in high quality suburban and rural areas,with union teachers,and they`re doing the job just fine. Are union teachers the cause of urban social failures,including the schools? Are union teachers at fault for our jobs being shipped to China? Are our union teachers at fault of racism and bigotry? Are our union teachers at fault when parents DO NOT CARE ?

    Show me even one (1) Charter for profit school,that has solved a social problem.

    • Klmspider

      Charter schools ARE a social problem.

  • Jim Moore

    “The idea of the site is to first help educate around the complex issues of evaluations, but also draw attention to legislators and their policy making.” – OEA/NEA Russell Hughlock

    After reviewing the sources used for grading, there is no way to distinguish legislative district boundary lines. In addition, not all cities and townships in the state are even included in the source data for this analysis. This makes every grade incorrect. So the true idea of this site is to misinform, misdirect, and mislead voters.

    I wonder if the teachers had any say over what these union representatives did? This is a disgrace to the teaching profession and a disgrace to the public dialogue which is necessary to ensure our kids are provided with the best education possible.

  • Randi Weingarten clone

    Turn around is fair play. Teachers should face an election by the parents of the students every 2 or 4 years and face the risk of becoming immediately unemployed. This should focus their attention on outcomes. The real problem w/ unionized teachers is the lack of accountabilty. Almost everyone else in the private secotor gets evaluated at least yearly and risks dismissal for poor performance. Teachers are highly isolated from personal accountability from poor value added outcomes.

  • jointhefuture

    The primary purpose of http://www.grademyrep.com is to engage people and educate about the complex issues surrounding teacher evaluations, so thanks for commenting!

    It is interesting that your comment dials into one of data accuracy. This has long been a problem highlighted by numerous studies regarding the use of student tests scores to evaluate teachers. It has been proven repeatedly that these “value add” scores are unreliable, error prone, and lack statistical stability. They were never intended to be used in this manner, as Batelle for Kids will attest. Considering that these scores will now be used to make high stakes decisions impacting teachers careers, you can see why this is important, and why we built http://www.grademyrep.com. We hope you express as much concern over this as you do http://www.grademyrep.com and express those concerns to your Representative!

    As for the accuracy of http://www.grademyrep.com I think you will find that school ratings data is available at the 9 digit zip level, more than accurate enough to map to a state representatives district. Furthermore, the vast majority of districts are encompassed wholly by a county and county data is readily available from numerous public sources as we highlight on ww.grademyrep.com – therefore your contention that the grades are incorrect based on geo coded data is simply incorrect.

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