Lawmakers battle over teacher evaluation rules

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Lawmakers are exploring ways to improve the way the state evaluates teachers on whether they are living up to certain standards.

Texas has a new policy where student performance on standardized testing will be linked to teacher assessments. An updated teacher evaluation evaluation system went I to effect in May.

The new system requires that school districts base 20 percent of teacher evaluations on student growth data that includes standardized test scores.

Teachers had some harsh words for lawmakers Wednesday during a hearing on public education at the state capitol. They were upset with a new state policy that links teacher evaluations to how students perform on standardized tests.

“It’s my least favorite part of the job, I hate it. I hate that,” said local school teacher Patty Hill, who was far from quiet in front of legislators. “My kids are being evaluated on some test that really doesn’t measure what they get out of my course.”

Hill teaches algebra to students at Kealing Middle School and says there’s a flaw in the current system in which teachers are evaluated. “Primarily because if you read it on the surface, I’d get a horrible review based on the current standards.”

And while she’s all for change, Hill says basing teacher evaluations on how well a student does on a standardized test isn’t accurate.

A teacher for more than 16 years, Hill now puts her lessons online. It’s called a flipped classroom which allows students to be more involved inside the classroom and read the lectures after school. She says that method more accurately reflects a student’s growth rather than a high pressure test.

“I think we need a different system because we really need to get to the heart of student learning and I don’t know that the current one does that.”

Right now some lawmakers seem to agree and may tackle the issue next legislative session.

The Association of Texas Professional Educators released a statement about it saying, “We flatly reject any notion of a dual system that would only use test scores to evaluate teachers in core subjects.”

More than 60 school districts in Texas will use the new appraisal system this fall in a pilot program. Just a few of them are in Central Texas. Lake Travis and Pflugerville ISD’s are the largest area districts in the pilot. Wimberley, Elgin, and Fayetteville ISD’s will also test the new teacher appraisals.

The new system will be available to all school districts for the 2015-2016 school year.

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