The new school year marks the first year of full implementation of the state’s new Teacher Excellence and Support System, a state-wide, mandatory teacher evaluation system intended to standardize comprehensive teacher evaluations and support. School districts piloted the program last year, but this will be the first year of mandatory implementation, as well as the first year of standard student assessments based on the common core, or the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) assessments. The new standard evaluation systems have been somewhat controversial, as they tie, to some degree, teacher evaluations to student growth and test scores. Many think this is unfair, but Arkansas, as well as 42 other states and the District of Columbia, agreed to implement evaluation systems that tie evaluations to student growth measurements as a condition to receiving certain waivers from No Child Left Behind.
Just last week, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced, while speaking to teachers at a Washington D.C. area middle school, that the U.S. Department of Education would be issuing guidance to states in the coming weeks that would allow some states to request a delay of using student test results as a component of mandatory teacher evaluations by one year. This would give schools and teachers an additional year to adjust to new student assessments and evaluation systems. Some states, such as Tennessee, have already announced they will not seek a delay. There have been no announcements from the Arkansas Department of Education, as of today, on whether or not Arkansas will request a delay.
Below is the video of Secretary Duncan’s announcement:
Source: U.S. Department of Education