HISD Approves Statistical Analysis to Grade Teachers

Some teachers booed as Houston School Board Trustees OK'd a plan to allow the firing of educators with consistently low value added scores. Rod Rice reports that HISD says it's a way to get a good teacher in every classroom, while the teacher's union says it may be an illegal way to evaluate teachers.

The Value Added analysis uses a number of elements, including the results of standardized tests, to come up with a statistical indicator of a teacher's effectiveness. It in effect scores teachers.

HISD Superintendent Terry Grier says that every parent wants capable teachers in classrooms and this decision adds another element to teacher evaluations.

"Basically what this policy does is it adds low value added test scores to one of the other 33 reasons that a teacher could be dismissed."

He says it will not be the sole reason for removing a teacher and wouldn't be done until other measures are taken.

"You need to sit down with those teachers and have a conversation around their teaching practice. And you need to spend time in their classroom and you need to develop a plan for them of what they could do to improve."

Gayle Fallon heads the Houston Federation of Teachers and says the policy approved last night does not require those steps and that as early as this morning a teacher has been told her scores are low  and she can resign or she'll be let go.

"I'm not sure what the teacher's going to do.  We're going to encourage her to fight."

Fallon says it is a battle the union can win.

"Actually I can win the war.  They won the first round last night when they passed this stupid policy. I can win the war because there are a number of areas of Texas law that we feel they are in violation of, starting with the way you evaluate teachers."

Grier says it is very clear that something is wrong when teacher scores are compared in the same school with the same students.

"One teachers getting exemplary results and another teacher, their students are sliding backward academically."

Fallon calls that an uninformed view of the classroom.

"You can't say the same kids. Only an idiot says the same kids.  Just because they come from the same neighborhood doesn't make them the same kids.  Every class has a personality and interaction of its own."

Superintendent Grier says this policy will only affect a very small number of teachers as the vast majority of HISD teachers do a very good job.

Union President Fallon says there are better ways to evaluate teachers and even good ones can get bitten by this policy.

Bio photo of Rod Rice

Rod Rice

Local Anchor, Morning Edition

Rod Rice became fascinated with radio at an early age, while sitting on his Grandfather’s lap listening to his "programs" on the big Emerson Radio...