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Report: State Education Agencies Stymied by Achievement-Based Teacher Compensation and Evaluation Systems

A Recovery Act requirement for state education agencies to support linking educator compensation and evaluation to student achievement has presented significant challenges, and fewer than 10 SEAs supported that goal by the end of the 2010-2011 school year, according to a new report from the United States Department of Education (ED).

The report, "State Implementation of Reforms Promoted Under the Recovery Act," evaluated state-level adoption of educational reforms implemented under the Recovery Act in the years 2009-2010 and 2010-2011. The Recovery Act required SEAs to commit to four key areas of reform in order to qualify for funding under the Act. One of those key areas was improved teacher effectiveness. The other areas were adoption of Common Core State Standards, establishment of data systems for performance improvement and support for low-performing schools.

The Recovery Act outlined six key indicators of educator workforce reform. Three of those indicators were related to increasing the number of teachers, and the majority of SEAs implemented those reforms by the end of the 2010-2011 school year. The other three indicators were related to linking educator evaluation and compensation to student achievement, and those areas presented considerable difficulty for SEAs.  

Implementation rates of educator evaluation and compensation reforms by the end of the 2010-2011:

  • Only 4 percent of SEAs supported use of multi-level ratings, multiple observations and student achievement gains for teacher evaluation, although a greater number of SEAs supported use of one or two of those methods;
  • 18 percent of SEAs supported use of student achievement gains for principal evaluation; and
  • 18 percent of SEAs supported differentiating teacher compensation based on student achievement gains.

Almost all SEAs struggled with at least one of these reforms. The biggest challenge, which was reported by 91 percent of SEAs, was difficulty measuring student growth for teachers of non-tested subjects. Also, roughly three-quarters of SEAs reported opposition from educators as another major challenge to implementing achievement-based compensation and evaluation. And about two-thirds said they didn't have enough capacity or expertise to develop reliable and fair methods of using student achievement in educator performance evaluations.

The full report, "State Implementation of Reforms Promoted Under the Recovery Act," is available as a downloadable PDF from the Institute of Education Sciences site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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