Mass. teachers union criticizes the new “impact ratings” system

Many school districts are having a tough time implementing the system

BOSTON (WWLP) – The Massachusetts Teachers Association is urging state lawmakers to eliminate the new “impact rating system,” which requires students to evaluate their teachers at the beginning and end of each school year. The rating system would apply to all educators, even art, P-E and music teachers. The goal is to determine whether teachers are helping students succeed, but the union argues the test is both unreliable and unfair.

Massachusetts Teachers Association President Barbara Madeloni told 22News, “Part of why we can’t do that is because children come to us from complex situations. The context of a child’s life is going to impact how they do on any given test.”

The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education put the student impact ratings in place to help teachers reflect on their own abilities, and the impact they’re having on their students’ learning.

A skeptical Somerville state Senator Patricia Jehlen told 22News she doubts any test can fully determine a teacher’s capabilities. She said, “Take action to just remove the state mandate just on the student impact ratings. The rest of the evaluations system, no one is complaining about.”

The teachers’ union believes the state should rely more on classroom observations, and begin a conversation with teachers about school work.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education argues that the student impact ratings are just one piece of a teacher’s evaluations.

Statement from the Massachusetts Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education:

“District-determined measures are ways to gauge an educator’s impact on student learning over time. They’re not test scores, contrary to what you might have heard; they use at least two years of data; and they make up only one piece of an educator’s evaluation (not even a given percentage). The overriding factor in Massachusetts educator evaluations is still the professional judgment of the evaluator.

Districts should currently be working toward incorporating district-determined measures in their educator evaluations.
Examples of district-determined measures include:
Student growth percentiles that measure growth in students’ statewide test scores
Student performance on a test used by other teachers in that same subject (for instance, a ninth grade algebra test used by all of a school’s ninth grade math teachers)
A portfolio of student work

District-determined measures do not have to add additional assessments to teachers’ and students’ workload. With the exception of MCAS growth percentiles, local teachers and administrators determine what the measures will be.”

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