One-Fifth of Pennsylvania Schools Join Teacher Evaluation Pilot

Published September 5, 2011

One-fifth of Pennsylvania’s public schools will participate in a pilot teacher evaluation program, part of an effort to reduce the state’s 99 percent “satisfactory” teacher rating belied by test scores showing 27 percent of its fourth graders can barely read. 

The pilot system will base half a teacher’s evaluation on “value-added” measures, said state Department of Education spokesman Tim Eller, which compare student test scores year over year to ascertain how much a teacher has improved or diminished them.

The other half of a teacher’s score will be based on classroom observations and the school’s overall student achievement. The revised program will go into place statewide in fall 2012. 

Current state law forbids schools from using test performance to evaluate teachers, but state lawmakers will consider a bill to end that practice in this fall’s legislative session, Eller said. 

“Switching to a system that accounts for each teacher’s classroom performance, expertise, and ability to connect with students helps protect the state’s very best teachers, whether old or new,” said Priya Abraham, a senior policy analyst for the Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.