Maybe all the state's children aren't above average, but a relatively new evaluation system makes it look like nearly all the teachers are.
The State Board of Education got a look at results of teacher evaluations that showed that in 13 school districts, teachers are very, very good at helping children learn. In fact, nearly 97 percent of the 972 teachers evaluated in the 2008-09 school year were proficient, accomplished or distinguished.
It seemed no one at the board's retreat believed this to be true - not board members, state Department of Public Instruction staff, or the consultant helping the board work on its goals. (If anyone thought the numbers reflected reality, they didn't speak up.)
Accurate assessments of teachers are key to state education goals. Could nearly 99 percent of teachers be proficient or better at communicating effectively and planning appropriate instruction?
Lynne Johnson, director of educator recruitment and development at the state Department of Public Instruction, explained that scores are inflated when a new system is being test, and that more training is needed in how to do the assessments.
The department will eventually incorporate information about student growth and working conditions into the evaluation data, Johnson said. When that happens, she said, the numbers will look very different.