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  • Teacher Viewpoint:  Evaluation


  • Skip Common Core scores in evaluations, letter urges


    Skip Common Core scores in evaluations, letter urges

    By Nanea Kalani

    POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jun 15, 2014
    LAST UPDATED: 02:13 a.m. HST, Jun 15, 2014

    Hawaii and the more than three dozen other states that have adopted the Common Core standards are being urged by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — which has pumped millions into the national education benchmarks — to hold off on using test scores based on the standards for high-stakes decisions like teacher evaluations.

    While the U.S. Education?Department has said the foundation’s suggested “blanket moratorium” isn’t the best approach, schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said the recommendation “is definitely something that we would look at as we go forward.”

    The possibility of postponing the use of test scores in Hawaii’s teacher evaluations was not one of the 18 changes the department announced last week to simplify its evaluation system, but Matayoshi said the first round of changes are just a start.

    “It’s a first modification, and we’ll continue to look at issues that are still outstanding,” she said. “Next year will bring more data, and we will be taking a look at that as well.”

    Hawaii was one of 45 states and the District of Columbia that initially signed onto the Common Core — nationally crafted standards laying out what skills students should have by the end of each grade, with the aim of better preparing them for college and careers.

    But as the 2014-15 deadline for testing of skills approaches, the Common Core has become a hot-button issue, with several states delaying indefinitely or completely dropping out of the pact.

    Opponents say it’s being implemented too quickly without a pilot period, and teachers across the country argue it’s unfair to tie their performance to student scores on the untested exams.

    Other critics argue the federal government is forcing the Common Core on states. (It was designed as a state-led effort by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers using private grant funding, including $160 million from the Gates Foundation. But the Obama administration has given states incentives to adopt the standards through its Race to the Top grant program and No Child Left Behind waivers. Hawaii won a grant and waiver.)

    New standardized tests aligned to the Common Core will be implemented statewide for the 2014-15 school year, the same year student test scores will factor into Hawaii’s teacher performance evaluations, with pay raises and other personnel consequences tied to teachers’ ratings.

    Vicki Phillips, director of education for the Gates Foundation, suggested in an open letter last week that actions tied to the testing, such as advancing students to the next grade and evaluating teachers, be pushed back by two years.

    “The Gates Foundation is an ardent supporter of fair teacher feedback and evaluation systems that include measures of student gains,”?Phillips wrote. “At the same time, no evaluation system will work unless teachers believe it is fair and reliable, and it’s very hard to be fair in a time of transition.

    “The standards need time to work. Teachers need time to develop lessons, receive more training, get used to the new tests, and offer their feedback.”

    Hawaii education officials contend the state’s rollout of Common Core-aligned curriculum and tests has been smooth, made somewhat easier because Hawaii is a single, statewide district — the only one in the country.

    “I think it’s important to keep in mind that every state is different and every state’s at a different point of implementation,”?said state Department of Education Deputy Superintendent Ronn Nozoe.

    “While the Gates report is valued … we’re taking comfort in knowing where we are as a state. We’ve been implementing the Common Core in the K-2 classrooms for a couple of years now, and we’ve implemented statewide in the rest of the classrooms,” he said.



  • EES:  Commitment to work as partners to make improvements


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