A new study from the National Council of Teacher Quality (NCTQ) says Kansas is one of several states that no longer evaluates teachers and principals on student performance.  Student growth data from the state assessment test was previously part of the evaluation process when it was required by the federal government, but the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015 gave states more autonomy on evaluations.

NCTQ says “ten states (Alaska, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Wyoming) and the District of Columbia have now removed their requirement that teacher evaluations consider any source of objective evidence of student learning. Two states (Alabama and Texas) went against the grain and shifted to include such evidence, leaving a net balance of 34 states that now require schools to factor objective measures of student learning into teacher evaluation ratings (down from a high of 43 states in 2015).”

There are seven evaluation metrics for teachers and five for principals. As seen in the figure below, metrics in green are currently in place, those in red have been dropped since 2015, and those in gray are not used now and weren’t in 2015.Kansas uses just two of the seven teacher measurements recommended by NCTQ and just one of the five recommended for principals.  Missouri did not go backward on evaluations since 2015, using five the seven methods for teachers and three of the five methods for principals.

The Sentinel reached out to the Kansas State Department of Education to ask why student performance data is no longer used for teacher and principal evaluations. KSDE did not comment on our request.

Student performance measures were not part of teacher evaluations historically; only 15 states required student growth be considered in evaluations in 2009. According to Elizabeth Ross, Managing Director of NCTQ, that number changed dramatically within the decade.

“In December of 2015 43 states required teacher and principal evaluation systems to include objective measures of student learning and growth.” Ross continued, “34 states do so today.”

Ross points out that the lack of consistency in regards to teacher and principal evalutions across states makes it harder for schools to assess teacher quality when recruiting and hiring.

However, Kansas is not alone. In 2015 43 states along with Washington D.C. used student growth in teacher evaluations, with just 8 states not using the data to evaluate teachers. Now there are 17 states that do not use student growth to evaluate teacher effectiveness. Washington D.C. rolled back all evaluation policies to a single annual review.

Kansas is one of the states that does not provide annual evaluations for teachers. Yet Ross notes, “Research demonstrates that all teachers, especially our best teachers, appreciate annual feedback on their practice.”

NCTQ’s analysis of teacher evaluations systems is derived from having more than two rating categories to balance a teacher’s impact on a student’s life and learning, and student survey responses, which applies to both teacher and principal evaluations.

According to NCTQ given the sheer volume of time students spend with teachers, which can equate to thousands of classroom hours when 25 students, 6 hours a day for a whole school year, the relevance of student surveys as a metric of teacher quality should not be dismissed. The study notes that “When included as part of a teacher’s summative evaluation rating, student surveys contribute to teacher evaluations that are more reliable and valid than evaluations that rely solely on classroom observations by an administrator.” However, though Kansas uses student survey data to evaluate teachers, student surveys in the state are “explicitly allowed” to be used for teacher evaluations; they are not required as part of evaluation. Only six states require surveys, and 17 states have no policy at all.

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