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State considers cutting student growth from teaching evaluations

school-busespng-91b35e2c325e0b5bAs we reported on Tuesday, North Carolina has more autonomy these days when it comes to evaluating teachers, thanks to last year’s update of the controversial federal education law, No Child Left Behind, now titled the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

So it should come as little surprise that one of the first reforms North Carolina will consider includes a revamp of the state’s teaching evaluation system.

One component of that evaluation system, which factors in student test score growth, has long been unpopular with teachers.

On Wednesday, staff with the N.C. Department of Public Instruction recommended a policy change to the State Board of Education that would nix the much-reviled Standard 6 in the N.C. Professional Teaching Standards. 

The goal, according to Thomas Tomberlin, director of district human resources, is to ease teacher stress about the measure, which could often yield wild swings in a teacher’s performance evaluation from year to year.

Tomberlin said the state is seeking the “sweet spot” for teacher motivation.

“Too little motivation yields neglect. Too much motivation yields too much anxiety. Our goal here is to maybe relieve some of the pressure. We want teachers to be motivated sufficiently, but not be overwhelmed by the anxiety.”

Of course, Tomberlin said student growth on testing would continue to be measured. It would simply not be one of the factors that determines whether a teacher is labeled as effective or ineffective.

“I doubt we’re going to find anyone who’s opposed to this based on the emails we’ve received,” said state board member Eric Davis. “You’re the most popular person in North Carolina.”

Several board members though, including Davis, cautioned that the state should not steer away from measuring teacher effectiveness. “I hope that we find a way to nuance this,” said Davis.

Steve Lassiter, North Carolina’s principal of the year and an advisor to the state board, applauded the recommended policy change.

“Teachers have a lot happening,” said Lassiter. “This is a good way to relieve some of the pressure. This is a welcome change.”

If the board approves the policy change, it would take effect this summer.

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