Having watched the May 11th webcast announcing the legislative reforms around the APPR process, it is clear that incorporating student performance into teacher evaluations makes some sense (at least to me!). By looking at growth in both the NYS assessments and locally determined assessments, understanding the impact that teachers have by seeing how their students shows growth makes some logical sense. The key word seems to be growth (rather than achievement.)
Without a doubt - this raises some issues and questions and of course, some concerns. While I wrestle with the impact this might have (positive and negative), the lawyer in me just can't stop thinking about the legal implications of these changes. Or at least the challenges that could be presented.
Fortunately - I am not alone and there are some well thought out arguments that has my gray matter really working. Bruce Baker over at Schoolfinance101's blog teases out his thoughts in "Pondering Legal Implications of Value-Added Teacher Evaluation." Interesting here is whether the proposals to link evaluations to student performance will in fact raise due process challenges due to the idea that "tenure" is in fact a property interest. Many other possible legal arguments are addressed but I find the tenure rights one very interesting (and very complicated!)
At Edjurist, Justin Bathon posted a response to the post above touching again on the due process piece but adding another tidbit that has really been bugging me about the use of quantitative data as well as the quantative way in which New York is proposing to weight the components of the evaluation:
Generally, all this is what happens when you start forcing statistics in the legal system - which is not built for that at all. The legal system is a very qualitatively oriented system, making decisions mostly based on evidence obtained through interviews and the like. The jury, even, is a qualitative system that collectively makes a decision based on all the evidence presented. Statistics throw a wrench in all that because people react differently to numbers. They think numbers don't lie (although, of course, we know that they can and do).Finally, Scott Bauries responds from the perspective of an employment lawyer and I will warn you - there is plenty of legal speak here. Bottom line on this post - yes there will be lawsuits ("Simply put, if you fire people, and they think their firings were unfair, then you are going to be sued.") but it is going to very difficult for many plaintiffs (i.e. the teachers) to be successful.
I share these to help to continue the discourse around this topic. Many are wondering with data in the mix - will people want to become teachers? Will we lose teachers because we have set this new bar? Or will we in fact begin to have others view teaching as a profession with the same accountability measures that other professions have? Weigh in - I would love to hear your thoughts!