Educators applaud bills targeting problems with teacher evaluation system

For Immediate Release
February 10, 2016
ATLANTA -- “Both SB 364 (Sen. Tippins) and SB 355 (Sen. Ligon) are steps in the right direction toward addressing our concerns over TKES (Teacher Keys Evaluation System),” said Dr. Sid Chapman, president of the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE), referring to the recent legislation dropped by both senators addressing many educators’ concerns over the state’s teacher and administrator evaluation processes. “We would like to thank them both on their efforts to help bring some rationality to the process. We have been working with Sen. Tippins and Rep. Brooks Coleman on the issue and were pleasantly surprised to see Sen. Ligon’s bill.”

GAE had earlier expressed major concerns including the fact that 1) no appeals process exists for any portion of the TKES process and the use of the rating “ineffective,” which constitutes evidence of incompetency and circumvents the Fair Dismissal procedure; 2) the TEM (Teacher Effectiveness Measure) continues to rely upon student surveys from students too young to provide reliable survey data according to the Department of Education; and 3) the new TKES regulations create a presumption of incompetence upon the first negative performance review for even the most seasoned educators.

GAE says after a very cursory look some positive aspects of both bills address those concerns including:

Reducing the percentage of a teacher’s, principal’s, and assistant principal’s evaluation that comes from student standardized test. We have always argued that children are not widgets on an assembly line and that each and every class brings a multitude of different variables into each classroom that makes it inherently difficult, if not impossible, to fairly and comparatively measure.

Requiring a cap on instructional hours that can be devoted to taking and preparing for mandated local, state and federal assessments. We applaud any effort to reduce unnecessary, toxic testing. The key is to strike the right balance needed to properly measure a child’s progress and use the information diagnostically to his or her benefit.

Looking at the number of unsatisfactory, ineffective or needs development evaluation for a renewable certificate. While this is a step in the right direction, there still needs to be a process that allows educators to appeal violations of evaluation ratings and procedures.

Looking at lowering the percentage of a student’s final grade that can be based on end-of-course assessments and that SLOs, SGO benchmarks be proven reliable and valid by DOE. This indicates a true recognition of the need to reduce the subjectivity of the process. We laud all efforts to make the process as objective as possible.

“Overall, we are very pleased to see these efforts to address deficiencies in the evaluation process,” notes Chapman. “We will continue to work with all legislators interested in helping reach this goal.”