HFT Survey Says Houston ISD Teachers Will Bolt if Pay Is Based on Teacher Evaluations

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Continuing their criticism of the evaluation system used to determine teacher bonuses in the Houston ISD, the Houston branch of the American Federation of Teachers Thursday released survey results that clearly show a high level of front-line educator disgruntlement in the district.

On May 1, the HFT and seven HISD teachers filed a lawsuit against the district saying its appraisal system that ties teacher evaluations to student test score improvement is unfair.

Of the teachers who responded to the survey, 76 percent (the orange/red portion of the pie) said they would resign and look for work elsewhere. Another 15 percent (the yellow) would retire. Only 9 percent (green) said they would stay.

Granted, this may be in the enthusiasm of the moment, and faced with the prospect of no paycheck, another decision might have to be made later on, but still, this might give trustees pause.

An op-ed in the Houston Chronicle Wednesday echoed many of the lawsuit complaints -- that rather than encouraging excellence, the Educational Value-Added Assessment System or EVAAS system trains teachers to game the system, looking for schools where they are likely to be most successful.

HISD and other school districts who use systems like this say this makes sure that students are getting the very best from their teachers, and that the entire process actually helps root out bad teachers and help educators who need a little more guidance.

HFT, AFT and other critics say the EVAAS system is based on junk science, incomprehensible to most of the teaching staff, and ultimately undercuts both teachers and students.

Next up: the HISD trustees and their collective wisdom. And at last night's meeting, in a 8-1 vote on the item's first reading, the board approved wording revisions to the evaluation regulations, but otherwise left the system intact. The only trustee to vote against the measure was Board President Juliet Stipeche.

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