Ohio looks to change teacher evaluation system

Teacher evaluation system may move away from test focus

Changes to the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System, moving away from mandatory grading of student growth on tests, are on track to be introduced in 2018-19 after the state school board approved a resolution Tuesday by a 15-4 vote.

The state’s Educator Standards Board worked for months on revisions to the OTES model, including language that “the evaluation system would no longer include student growth as a separate, weighted component rating.”

RELATED: Ohio juniors may not have to pass tests to graduate

The changes require approval from the state legislature, and Peggy Lehner, chair of the Senate Education Committee, said she thinks there’s support there, in part because many legislators want to place less emphasis on testing in many areas.

Julia Simmerer, senior executive director of the state’s Center for the Teaching Profession, said student growth on state tests would still be on the table for use in evaluations, along with other data, but not at any legally required percentage.

The two current evaluation models require student growth data to account for 35 or 50 percent of the teacher’s overall score. The new system would be more flexible, with student growth embedded as possible “sources of evidence” within five parts of the OTES rubric.

“This allows teachers to bring all the data they have to the table for a conversation with their evaluator,” Simmerer said.

In recent years, some educators have questioned the validity of “value-added” student growth data tracking year-over-year student performance on state tests. The state supports that data and uses it heavily in state report cards and teacher evaluations.

New state school board member Nick Owens, whose district includes Clark and Greene counties, said he thinks the pendulum had swung too much toward tests and constant monitoring of teachers.

“It took away the flexibility for a teacher to truly teach and have an enriching environment with their students,” Owens said. “This new OTES recommendation is a way to move the pendulum back, to empower teachers. I don’t want people to think we’re weakening standards. We’re trying to further refine those standards so that what’s best for teachers is also best for students.”

About the Author