D.C. public school second-graders will take the DC CAS for the first time this spring, part of an effort to expand the pool of teachers eligible to be evaluated on the “value-added” they bring to student test scores. Until recently, only grades 3 through 8 and high school sophomores took the exams.

Extending the CAS to second grade means that third-grade reading and math teachers will enter IMPACT’s “Group 1,” where half of their evaluation will be determined by their students’ ability to exceed projected levels of annual growth. DCPS needs second-grade test data to assemble a predictive model for the third-graders.

Third-grade teachers won’t actually be accountable for “value-added” until the 2012-13 school year. This spring’s test scores will be used only to establish a baseline, according to an FAQ sheet from the Office of Data and Accountability that went to schools last week. Nor will second grade scores be employed to calculate a school’s AYP.

As it stands, relatively few classroom teachers--less than 500 of the approximately 4,000--are evaluated using value-added. The methodology has been criticized by teachers unions and some scholars as not sufficiently reliable for high-stakes personnel evaluations.

But DCPS wants to increase the size of Group 1. Last spring, it introduced a CAS for ninth grade reading. IMPACT czar Jason Kamras said in an interview earlier this year that the District hoped to have 75 percent of classroom teachers accountable for value-added within five years.

Of the 476 teachers in Group 1 for the 2009-10 school year, 37 (about 8 percent) received “highly effective” IMPACT ratings, according to DCPS data provided to D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown (D). There were 124 (26 percent) judged “minimally effective” and ten (about 5 percent) deemed “ineffective.” The majority of 305 (about 64 percent) were “effective.”