CCSD superintendent under fire for teacher evaluation policy

CCSD  superintendent under fire for teacher evaluation policy
May 30 15:48 2017 Print This Article

On February13, 2017 the Policy and Personnel Committee of the Charleston County School Board (CCSD) met to discuss the use of the Education Value-Added Assessment System (EVAAS) software to determine which teachers in the district would receive contracts for the 2017-2018 school year. EVAAS is an evaluation tool that gives teachers a ranking of Level 1 (lowest) to Level 5 (highest) based on test scores. Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait and the CCSD Board were given several key pieces of information about EVAAS, including only 11 out of 86 district schools had roster verifications for the test data. Roster verifications are crucial to determine which teachers have taught which students.

A veteran West Ashley High School teacher was placed on formal evaluation based on her student test scores. She later determined that the roster used for evaluating her was invalid. She told the school board at its May 22 meeting, “It is unfair to me. It is unfair to my colleagues, and it is unfair to our principal.”  At the February 13 committee meeting, board member Todd Garrett asked Postlewait if the EVAAS data was going to be used to determine who received teacher contracts for the 2017-2018 school year. Postlewait replied, “Absolutely.”

Also at this policy meeting, board member Michael Miller stated that if Level 1 and Level 2 teachers are all terminated, it would compound the existing teacher shortage. He mentioned that the district doesn’t have enough Level 5 teachers for each student to reach the CCSD’s goal of 1.5 years of student growth each year. John Cronin, director of education research with Northwest Evaluation Association, a student data service, indicates that only 1% of elementary schools achieve that lofty goal. He warns that unrealistic goals cause harm when they are used to evaluate teacher performance.

A CCSD principal told Lowcountry Source that principals were called in to a meeting with district staff in late March. Principals were given a list which teachers were to be placed on performance plans based exclusively on test scores, and they were to have them signed by the teachers. The principals had no input into the teacher evaluations.

The outcry from teachers was heard across the district. The May 22 CCSD Board meeting had an overflow crowd of angry teachers and parents. To address the outcry Superintendent Postlewait said, “Student achievement data in isolation has not been and will not be used to make teacher employment decisions,” a statement in conflict with what principals were told by district staff.

The CCSD has not updated its five-year Strategic Action Plan since Postlewait was hired in 2015 and has presented no strategies for improving student performance in a large and diverse school district.