Information released by the Iowa Department of Education for the first time today shows the teacher evaluation systems used by school districts are a mixed bag. Department chief data analyst, Jay Pennington, presented the information to the Board of Education as part of the annual report on the condition of the state schools.
“Fifty-four-percent of school districts reported using the I.S.E.A. — the teacher association’s endorsed evaluation system — so while that was a majority, 46-percent of schools reported using some other type of system. It could certainly be an offshoot of the I.S.E.A. system, or it might be something totally different,” Pennington says.
The systems used by the school also varied greatly in the methods used to score the evaluations of the 38,000 teachers. Some schools used a system that evaluated teachers only in individual categories and not overall.
“Of the 38,000 — 17,500 were evaluated. Of those 17,000, 13,000 were given a summative rating — so they were given an actual overall score,” Pennington explained. “But at the same time, 4,373 were not given an overall score in that rating system.” Most teachers passed the ratings test regardless of the type of system used.
Ninety-eight-percent of those evaluated were given a positive rating, and two percent were given a negative rating,” according to Pennington. He says the wide variety of rating systems make it hard to determine the good from the bad teachers.
“As you can see there is little differentiating in the ratings systems, so if the bulk use a ‘meet does not meet” (standards)…the type of system that that use is not really providing that sort of spread to say really who are your good teachers, who are your great teachers. It doesn’t provide that information overall,” Pennington says.
The issue of teacher evaluations and the best way to conduct them is part of the ongoing education reform discussion.