A new teacher evaluation system in Louisiana requires frequent classroom observations and the use of test score data in teacher ratings. The Hechinger Report has partnered with The Times-Picayune in New Orleans on a four-part series of in-depth stories examining the possible benefits and pitfalls of the new policies. The front-page series, “Grading the Graders,” also looks at how the new system is playing out on the ground as teachers and principals adjust to it.

Scott Steckler, principal at George Cox Elementary School in Gretna conducts a pre-observation interview with teacher Lora Johnson in his office Thursday, October 18, 2012. “…For the most part the teachers are accepting of those achievement goals that have been determined by the school district,” Steckler said.(Photo by Ted Jackson, Nola.com / The Times-Picayune)

Teachers worry about more testing under new Louisiana evaluations

By Sarah Carr

When Scott Harris looked at recommended French tests he could use to measure his students’ progress this school year — and, by extension, his own success or failure as a teacher — he felt stymied by the lack of suitable options. For instance, the state’s suggested tests for Harris’ French I students at Louisiana State […]

“The first question is what is the goal of the class,” said Principal Steckler as he began the interview, “and then the next question is what is the objective for that day?” The interview session unveiled detailed lesson plans and questions about class targets. Johnson said she felt confident in her planning and performance. The classroom observation was scheduled and coordinated for the next Monday. Another observation during the year would be unannounced. (Photo by Ted Jackson, Nola.com / The Times-Picayune)

Louisiana’s new evaluations challenge and confuse teachers

By Mark Waller

Toward the end of a spring day at Chalmette High School, Alexandra LaPres’s drama class was wrapping up its final rehearsal of the “Merchant of Venice, Louisiana,” a mix of Shakespeare and local flavor. Dressed in a maroon and khaki uniform, Portia slammed a law book on the desk of a petite, blonde judge and […]

4th grader Noah Nafziger finds a quiet place to read during breakout groups in Lora Johnson's class at George Cox Elementary School in Gretna, La. Thursday, October 18, 2012. In 2010 the Louisiana Legislature passed Teacher Evaluation Reform. Now it’s rolling out across Louisiana with local schools grappling with how to carry out the intense new requirements. The program, called Compass, consists of a two part annual evaluation, 50% based on observation by the principal and 50% on student performance. A designation of ineffective lands a teacher in a rehabilitation program. If improvements don’t follow, teachers can be dismissed. (Photo by Ted Jackson, Nola.com / The Times-Picayune)

Teacher evaluation architect warns of lawsuits against Louisiana’s new system

By Sarah Garland

The new teacher evaluation system Louisiana launched this fall may be too simplistic, according to the architect of one of the most widely used evaluation systems in the country – and the one on which Louisiana’s new system is based. Charlotte Danielson is the creator of a method of observing and rating teachers based on […]

With a grading sheet in hand, Dr. Scott Steckler watches intently during teacher observation of Lora Johnson and takes careful notes, Tuesday October 23, 2012, as state schools began complying with new Teacher Evaluation Reform policies being rolled out this year. Steckler and a handful of other schools around the state participated in a pilot program last year. (Photo by Ted Jackson, Nola.com / The Times-Picayune)

Louisiana launches controversial new teacher evaluations to praise, fear

By Andrew Vanacore

Teachers in Louisiana have all but lost the tenure rules that once protected their jobs. Beginning this year, all 50,000 of them will be evaluated and ranked on an annual basis, often with test scores factoring in heavily. Soon, consistently “ineffective” teachers will no longer be welcome in the classroom.