Monday, November 28, 2016

Louisiana Educator: Our Louisiana School Principal Evaluation System is Seriously Flawed

Louisiana Educator: Our Louisiana School Principal Evaluation System is Seriously Flawed:

Our Louisiana School Principal Evaluation System is Seriously Flawed

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Note to readers: Recently I became concerned about Superintendent White’s proposal that the new calculation of a school’s performance score would have a 25% component based on the annual improvement of student test performance. I especially question such a system applied to all schools, particularly since A rated schools often have little room to improve. This concern only added to my fears that our new Louisiana school principal evaluation system may also be overly reliant on perpetual student test score increases.

With the above concerns in mind I asked Herb Bassett, a Louisiana educator whom I regard as one of the best analysts of statistical based rating systems, to study the new principal evaluation system now in operation in Louisiana and provide my readers with his insights as to the appropriateness of this model for principal evaluation. 

Mr. Bassett’s conclusions described below are very worrisome, and lead me to believe that principals and district superintendents have been saddled with a poorly designed and extremely unfair system for principal evaluations. Please review Mr. Bassett’s analysis and also my commentary following the analysis.

Bassett’s Analysis of Guidelines for Principal Evaluations

The following is an analysis of SPS growth targets recommended by the Louisiana Department of Education as part of the latest principal evaluation system. The analysis explains how LDOE:

1.     imposed what amounts to a stack ranking system designed to fail both 25% of A school principals and 25% of D school principals on at least one component of their evaluations
  Note from editor: Stack ranking is a type of employee evaluation system that ranks employees on the results of the employee evaluation. It is common in stack ranking to designate a certain percentage of employees each year as unsatisfactory and a certain percentage as satisfactory as well as a certain percentage as high performers. This procedure amounts to a quota system for each level in the evaluation system. Even though the ranking affects only part of the principal’s evaluation, it can make a huge difference in the final evaluation.,
2.     overrode its own Achievement Level Descriptions for the majority of its target recommendations, that the overrides had a downward influence on principal ratings, and that LDOE did not clearly explain its overrides in its Goal -Setting Toolkits, 
3.     used an incorrect method to establish its target recommendations. This resulted in unrealistically high targets for A school principals while allowing relatively lax targets for D and F school principals.

This year, the LDOE convinced the Accountability Commission and BESE to tie principals' evaluations directly to SPS growth. Bulletin 130 now states:

§305. Measures of Growth in Student Learning Targets
D. Principals and Administrators. A minimum of two student learning targets shall be identified for each administrator.
1. For principals, the LDE shall provide recommended targets to use in assessing the quality and attainment of both student learning targets, which will be based upon a review of “similar” schools. The LDE will annually publish the methodology for defining “similar” schools.
2. For principals, at least one learning target shall be based on overall school performance improvement in the current school year, as measured by the school performance score.

LDOE was left to decide how it would set the targets. Its 2016 overall SPS Improvement target recommendations would lead to the following (based on the recently released 2016 SPSs):

·      Over two-thirds of principals of A-rated high schools would get the lowest rating while only one principal of an F-rated high school would do so. 

·      No A-rated combination school principal would make the highest rating while exactly half of the principals of F-rated high schools would.

·      More than one-third of all principals would make the lowest rating.

These outcomes defy common sense. LDOE's recommended targets were unrealistic for A rated schools and comparatively lax for D and Fschools. Why would we require an A school to improve its SPS more than twice as much as a Dschool to rate full attainment? These inverted expectations came from a questionable ranking system and from using incorrect methods to calculate those rankings.

Principals were encouraged to base a second goal on an individual component of the SPS. LDOE recommended similarly flawed targets for those as well.

I certainly hope that many principals and their supervisors chose to override the LDOE Louisiana Educator: Our Louisiana School Principal Evaluation System is Seriously Flawed:

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