D.C. custodial staff were evaluated by student test scores. Really. (update)

Ron Hillyer, who retired earlier this year, is getting a hallway named after him at Janney Elementary School in the Tenleytown section of Northwest D.C.
Retired D.C. schools custodian Ron Hillyer had a hallway named after him at Janney Elementary School.

(Update: DC official explains why custodians were evaluated by test scores)

How obsessive have school reformers been with linking student standardized test scores to the evaluations of adults in school buildings?

Well, a lawsuit filed in Florida today by seven teachers and their unions is asking for an end to the state’s evaluation system that insists that most teachers be evaluated in part by the test scores of students they didn’t teach — in subjects they don’t teach.

It may sound crazy, but it’s true. Read about it here.

And then there’s this: Until this year, Washington D.C.’s IMPACT evaluation system, begun under former chancellor Michelle Rhee in 2009, linked student standardized test scores to the evaluations of D.C. school custodians. Really.

The 2011-12 IMPACT guidebook for Custodian Staff (Group 19) included this:

School Value-Added Student Achievement Data (SVA) —  This is a measure of the impact your school has on student learning over the course of the school year, as evidenced by the DC CAS. This component makes up 5 percent of your IMPACT score.

This was omitted for the current school year. Jason Kamras,  chief of human capital for D.C. Public Schools (I didn’t make up that title), said in an e-mail that the 5 percent was dropped this year. Later, in a second-email, he said:

We originally included it to instill a sense of teamwork among all staff. But we found that our “Commitment to School Community” measure (a rubric of expectations for all staff) did so more effectively.

 

D.C. officials really thought linking a custodian’s performance evaluation to student test scores would “instill a sense of teamwork among all staff?” And they thought this for years?

Meanwhile, the District  continues to find new ways to link teacher evaluations to test scores.

For example, educators of really young children — who are not old enough to take the D.C. Comprehensive System exams which are the basis of the school system’s test-based accountability system — are still judged on standardized tests, just not the DC CAS.

Until this year, they, too, had 5 percent of their evaluations based on overall school standardized test scores and 10 percent based on non-DC CAS tests, This year, the 5 percent is gone and lumped in with the 10 percent, so now 15 percent is based on test scores, though not the DC CAS.

The 2012-13 IMPACT guidebook for early childhood teachers says in part:

Teacher-Assessed Student Achievement Data (TAS) This is a measure of your students’ learning over the course of the year, as evidence by rigorous assessments other than the DC CAS. This component makes up 15 percent of your IMPACT score.

“Rigorous assessments” for 3- and 4-year-olds”  Early childhood experts say that standardized tests and “rigorous assessments” should have no place in early childhood learning.

But they do in D.C. public schools — and plenty of other schools around the country.

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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Valerie Strauss | April 16, 2013