Teachers concerned about proposed system

February 12, 2011 4:29:06 PM PST
Your children's performance on standardized tests like the TAKS test could soon determine a large chunk of their teachers' evaluation. But the proposal by HISD isn't sitting well with some educators. Jesse Alred teaches tenth-grade world history in HISD. He was at a meeting Saturday because he is worried about a proposed teacher evaluation system that would hold teachers accountable for student test scores, making the scores and other academic bench marks 50 percent of a teacher's rating. Teachers with low-scoring students could be fired.

"The problem is when you use test scores and you don't factor out behavior problems and kids who don't show up to school often," he said. ""When you don't factor those things out of the evaluation systems, they can't be fair."

Other former and current educators agree.

"If they have students that are chronically absent, they cannot be evaluated on the test scores of those students, because they may have done a very good job, but that's going to pull the grades down," said Jodie Sinclair, a member of the shared decision-making committee.

Teachers union Spokesperson Gayle Fallon says this system is fraught with problems and doesn't compare where a student started to where he or she end up, a process she says would make more sense.

"Fifty percent on student performance is a little heavy because what you're basically saying is that if the child doesn't perform, the only factor is the teacher, nothing about what is happening at home, nothing about the level when they walked into the classroom," she said.

The school board still has to vote to approve the proposal and the district says they can make adjustments between now and the next school year.

"We're trying to engage as many folks as possible who are stakeholders in the system to get that kind of feedback," said HISD accountability and rewards assistant superintenden William Horwath.

Teachers tell us it will likely pass the board vote, and that educators won't know exactly how the system will really affect them until after it is in place.

The proposed evaluation system goes before the board in April and would be implemented next school year. There is a legal challenge that could stop it from passing, but teachers unions expect it to become a reality.