Those against using standardized test scores to measure teacher ability say the tests do not adequately judge the impact of variables including socioeconomic background and other homelife factors.
Green said the tests were used because they gave clear indicators on how the school performed over time. Other factors were taken into account, including “Beating the Odds” goals, which factor in demographic, socioeconomic, ethnicity and mobility figures.
“That’s why ‘Beating the Odds’ factors into that — to recognize the variables that sort of neutralize,” he said. “We tried as much as we could to look at where progress was being made.”
The move comes near the end of Green's second year leading the district. In that time he's established himself as an advocate of local districts leading the way in school turnaround efforts, often voicing his discontent as Gov. Nathan Deal sought an independent school district for the state's failing schools.
But test scores across the district have largely been stagnant, with few success stories among the mix as schools work their way off lists of low-performing schools.
Temperance Neal, who teaches kindergarten at Flat Rock Elementary School, said her principal, Zack Phillips, is usually the first person in the building and the last to leave. He’s pushed leadership training for his teachers and established a teamwork dynamic that fosters success. She said the majority of her students met or exceeded annual proficiency benchmarks.
“It speaks to the work he’s doing,” she told the school board Monday. “The positive success the students are having under his leadership is because of the rigor he puts on teachers to deliver.”
Martin West, editor-in-chief of EdNext, an education policy publication, said proponents for using test scores for evaluation purposes could argue that the results suggest work needs to be done.
“A defender of using a level-based approach would say … what those scores are telling us is that the kids are not prepared to succeed in college,” said West, also an associate professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. “We want to change that situation and the leadership hasn’t been able to get that job done, and we’re going to try and find someone who will. That may be unfair for the principal who was put in this challenging situation, but we’re more concerned with being fair to the students and we’re going to look somewhere else for leadership.
“But I think you have to be careful when doing that because there’s no guarantee whoever you get next is going to be anymore successful.”
Robert Schaeffer, public education director for the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, said using test scores to grade principals on their school’s progress do a disservice in ignoring factors outside the school that impact an individual child’s ability to learn.
“From the get-go, this is inappropriate application of data designed for a different purpose,” he said. “The tests weren’t designed to evaluate principals. they were used to evaluate student.”
Schaeffer said DeKalb County School District leaders should worry about what other employees take from the tactic.
“It sends a message … to get your scores up by hook or by crook,” he said. “It’s a kind of climate that helped lead to the (cheating scandal) in Atlanta years ago.”
Elementary school principals reassigned in DeKalb County
Dresden — Dominique Terrell
Flat Rock — Zack Phillips
International Student Center — Terry Segovis
Oak View — Rodney Mallory
Panola Way — Ethan Suber
Rock Chapel — Michael Williamson
Shadow Rock — Karen Williams
Snapfinger — Sylvia Reddick Pilson
Stoneview — Ledra Jemison
In other DeKalb news:
DeKalb Sheriff's defense says he won't respond Tuesday