Teacher evaluation in PreK: Using student data is risky

“Determining growth measures for these grades is among the most complex pieces of teacher evaluation reform,” said Laura Bornfreund, senior policy analyst for New America’s Early Education Initiative, and author of the report. “In this early stage of life, children’s developmental growth is directly linked to their academic growth. So measures of student learning should account for how young children actually learn and measure more than just reading and mathematics if we are to obtain an accurate picture of a teacher’s impact on her young students’ learning.”

However, the report also notes that states and districts often don’t have many “proven practices” when it comes to using data for teacher evaluations.

Teacher evaluation policy changes since 2009. [Yellow: Yes; Purple: No]
Complicating matters is the implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS), which do not include formal assessments in language arts and mathematics for PreK through second grade.

The Partnership for Assessments of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), does, however, plan to create formative assessments for teachers to use in kindergarten through second grade.

In a recent speech, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten called for a moratorium on the high-stakes implications of Common Core testing until the standards have been properly implemented.

In creating the report, Bornfreund hopes to provide a snapshot of how teacher evaluation systems use student achievement data, and also hopes to illuminate the issues causing states and school districts the most struggles.

Most states are using one or a combination of three approaches, she explained: student learning objectives (SLOs), shared assessments, and shared attribution. The Early Education Initiative at the New America Foundation examined these approaches in five states (Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Rhode Island, and Tennessee) and three school districts (Austin, Texas; Hillsborough County, Fla.; and Washington, D.C.). Each of the approaches carries its own risks and opportunities.

The risks and opportunities of these three approaches are found in the report.

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Meris Stansbury

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