Ohio Teacher Evaluation System: Dishonest, Unrealistic, and Not Fully Supported by Academic Research

A great article that appeared on Dailykos a few days ago

I've spent the past three days at an OTES (Ohio Teacher Evaluation System) training. This system is being phased in over the next two years, and will serve as the vehicle by which all teachers in Ohio are evaluated. The workshop culminates with a post-assessment, taken some time after the classes end, resulting in licensure and the ability to evaluate instructional staff. OTES is described by ODE as a system that will
provide educators with a richer and more detailed view of their performance, with a focus on specific strengths and opportunities for improvement.

I talked to a number of administrators and teachers who had already taken the training before attending. Without exception, they were all struck by the rigidity of the rubric. I agree, but there's more here. Any system that wields so much power must be realistic, honest, and rooted in the consensus of academic research. The OTES rubric fails this basic test.

Words Matter
Check out the Ohio Standards for the Teaching Profession (starting on page 16) approved in October of 2005. Now look at the OTES rubric. The first thing you will notice is that the OTES rubric has four levels, and that the Ohio Standards only have three. I think it's fair to say that the Ohio Standards did not include the lowest level. (The document says as much.) The top three levels of the OTES Rubric align with the three levels of the Ohio Standards. The snag? The terminology used in the OTES rubric. Proficient has been replaced by Developing, Accomplished by Proficient, and Distinguished by Accomplished. Each level has been relegated!

One might argue that this doesn't matter. But, it does. Teacher evaluations are public record. School performance, or at least the percentage of teachers that fall into each category, will be published. Newspapers will ask for names of teachers and their ratings. And, as we will see as I unpack the rubric in greater detail, the very best teachers are likely to fall into the Proficient category. What's the one relationship between public education and the word Proficient already burned into the minds of parents? The minimal level of performance required to pass the Ohio Graduation Test. Dishonest.

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Education News for 12-05-2012

State Education News

  • Ohio Senate passes student-athlete concussion bill (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Starting as soon as the spring sports season, Ohio’s young athletes would have to be immediately removed from a game or practice when they showed symptoms of a concussion…Read more...

  • Columbus school district must pay audit bill (Columbus Dispatch)
  • The cost to Columbus City Schools for being investigated for data-rigging continued to grow this week: The district has become the only one in a statewide probe…Read more...

  • Program to help Ohio schools teach historic texts (Newark Advocate)
  • An educational program unveiled Tuesday by the Ohio Historical Society is meant to help schools comply with a new state law requiring students in grades 4-12…Read more...

  • State audit finds discrepancy in school’s bank deposit (Springfield News-Sun)
  • A state audit released Tuesday included a finding that required the Graham Local School District to repay about $330 to the district’s athletic fund, because of an accounting error…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Adena students' service projects address multiple issues (Chillicothe Gazette)
  • This fall, one class at Adena High School spawned four service projects, most of which had students working within the school…Read more...

  • Cleveland schools CEO Eric Gordon rolls out draft plan aimed at lifting district's performance (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • Six failing schools in the Cleveland school district could be overhauled in the fall. New specialty schools could open in the district a year later…Read more...

  • Opinions split on freshman reading assignment in Grandview (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Any other year, students needed a signed form from their parents to read the book. If they got that, they would meet after school to discuss the novel with their teacher in small groups…Read more...

  • Vanlue takes over BVS busing service (Findlay Courier)
  • Going along with the recent statewide trend of sharing services to reduce cost, Vanlue schools has taken over busing for Blanchard Valley School's preschool and school-aged children…Read more...

  • High school seniors finding they can't procrastinate in college search process (Willoughby News Herald)
  • Preparing to apply to colleges is a task seniors often begin long before they’re set to make the jump from high school. For example, students at Mentor High School start thinking about career choices in the ninth grade…Read more...

  • CMSD to Restore Full K-8 School Day (WJW)
  • Changes are under way to kindergarten through 8th grade school days in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District…Read more...


  • Extended learning (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • Next year, 40 schools in five states will participate in a three-year pilot program to extend the school year by 300 or more hours. Research indicates that properly applied, more instructional time…Read more...

Teachers to the legislative rescue

We brought HB555 to your attention quite some time ago. Yet another vehicle for school "reform". It was mothballed, but now appears to be getting a dust-off according to Gongwer, and readied for lame duck action

The House Education Committee is scheduled to meet on three days in the week following the election, and the chairman said Thursday the yet-to-be-completed report card rating bill will be top priority during lame duck.

With meetings set for the afternoons of Nov. 13-15, Chairman Rep. Gerald Stebelton (R-Lancaster) said it is possible the committee will hear other bills, but the main focus will be on legislation to revamp the state's grade cards for school districts and buildings.

Rep. Stebelton introduced a placeholder bill during the summer (HB 555) that currently contains language stating the General Assembly's intent to put in place a system by Dec. 31. He said Thursday, however, the bill is not "totally completed yet."

"The subject matter of 555 is the highest priority (for lame duck)," he said in an interview. "We've had a lot of negotiations and there's still a lot of moving parts."

Mr. Stebelton said he is hopeful the legislature can reach consensus with the governor's office in time to have the bill passed by the end of the year as intended. He has been working with administration officials, the Department of Education and the Senate, he said.

Rep Stableton would be wise to wait just a short while, he might have some actual educators join him in the state legislature, who can help guide him to better policy, instead of creating a mess like this one

Reading Guarantee: Mr. Sawyers said the department is asking for a change during lame duck session to the third-grade guarantee, specifically to a requirement that students with a reading deficiency be assigned to a teacher with a "reading endorsement."

Because teachers with such a certification are few and far between, the agency wants clarification that would align the requirement of a high-performing teacher with the reading endorsement for the time being because acquiring the training for the title requires 12 to 16 semester hours of college credit, he said.

"It's not practical that between January of 2013 - if they're not already in a fall semester someplace - between January and then when they will start again in August that we're going to have this mad rush of people going out to get this reading endorsement (and) that can actually complete 12 to 18 semester hours of credit," Mr. Sawyers said.

"There's got to be an alternative, ultimately, that's put in place for fall (2013), so we're proposing to the General Assembly, what could that alternative be?"

Oh dear. We wrote about the mixed messages and policy mess the legislature has caused with this, so it's good to see ODE acknowledge the problems too. But, these are the kinds of problems that simply would not occur if legislatures with no education experience or background listened to those who have, and hopefully come January, that will include a number of colleagues.

VIDEO: Merit Pay, Teacher Pay, and Value Added Measures

Value added measures sound fair, but they are not. In this video Prof. Daniel Willingham describes six problems (some conceptual, some statistical) with evaluating teachers by comparing student achievement in the fall and in the spring.