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Will Georgia districts hold teachers accountable for student scores on new tests?

Teachers are telling me student performance on this year's Georgia Milestones tests and Student Learning Objectives will be factored into evaluations next year.

That surprised me as I understood the state was treating this inaugural administration of the brand new tests as a sort of practice round.

      The way the evaluations system works, the teacher evaluations for this academic year are based on this year's observations and last year's scores. Teachers are being told that this is still true and next year's teacher evaluations will be based on this year's test scores and observations that will take place next year. I've heard from teachers in three different metro counties, who have been told as recently as last week that the student growth models that make up roughly half of their teacher evaluation will not be changed. Is there any chance that you can get some clarification on that? Several teachers I know are interested to know.

DOE spokesman Matt Cardoza responded:

  The department has applied for a waiver to delay the use of this year's growth data being used in next year's evaluation for high stakes decisions. We have asked for a waiver for the use of the 2014-15 growth in the evaluation system. We expect we will get that. However, growth will still be calculated, but it will not be used for the teacher evaluation.

I responded I was hearing from teachers the student scores would be used in their 2015-2016 evaluations. Can systems do it anyway? Cardoza responded:

Because of local control, districts could always use evaluation results as they choose. By GaDOE asking for the waiver and with the PSC certification waiver, we are communicating to districts that we recommend that growth be used as information, not for high-stakes decisions.



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Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.