Invest

Laura and John Arnold Foundation

Aldine Independent School District has received a substantial grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation to help the district develop a new and improved educator evaluation process, Invest, that ties evaluation to student learning outcomes and professional development.

The Brown Foundation

Aldine Independent School District received a grant from The Brown Foundation, Inc., to help develop the Invest program, which aims to improve the evaluation process for educators by tying evaluations to student learning outcomes and professional development.

Houston Endowment

Aldine Independent School District received a grant from the Houston Endowment to help fund the development of Invest. The system aims to link student learning outcomes and professional development with the evaluation process.

Aldine Independent School District developed a new teacher evaluation system, named Invest, to significantly improve the quality of instruction in its classrooms. Research indicates that some teachers are dramatically more effective than others and further, that this difference is among the most important schooling factor affecting student learning. Based on this research, Invest relies on Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching and student growth measures to differentiate teacher performance and maximize teacher professional growth.

Invest was designed and created by Aldine Independent School District with support and direction from Operation Public Education (an education-reform project of the University of Pennsylvania).  Participants from each of Aldine’s 74 schools, including teachers, paraprofessionals, parents, and business community members played a vital role in all aspects of this reform. 

Invest was piloted in the 2012-2013 school year and rolled out district-wide in the 2013-2014 school year. The new evaluation system includes multiple measures of teacher effectiveness to allow for better differentiation of teacher practice and increased teacher effectiveness. It also aims to reduce teacher attrition rates. The new system also meets Texas Education Agency teacher standards TEC§21.351 and TAC §149.1001. 

Improvements in teacher effectiveness and retention should improve student performance on standardized tests, increase high school graduation rates, and support our mission to prepare students academically and socially to be critical thinkers, problem solvers, and responsible and productive citizens.

Links

Evaluations and Scoring

  1. Why is it that, if you miss some days, it is unsatisfactory?
    The district has always valued good attendance from teachers because it is in the best interest of students to have their regular teacher in class. The components summary sheet lists the specific ratings for attendance: 0 absences – distinguished; 1-3 absences – proficient; 4-5 – basic; 6 or more – unsatisfactory.
  2. Explain how student-led lessons tie into INVEST scoring.
    The component summaries, particularly under Classroom Environment, provide detailed information about the roles and contributions of students. Different components look for different student contributions.
  3. How many formal or informal walk-throughs can you receive?
    There is no maximum number of walk-throughs, but there are minimums that are different for different tracks. Refer to the Annual Appraisal Timeline for your track. Track 1A and 1B will receive a minimum of 2 walk-throughs each semester. Track 2 will receive a minimum of 2 walk-throughs during the first semester and 1 walk-through during the second semester.
  4. Are the walk-throughs averaged together?
    Yes, the walk-throughs will be averaged by component, then by domain.
  5. How are evaluations averaged for a final score?
    From PART A — The Danielson Framework: First, the components and the domains will be averaged. The score given for each component will be derived as follows: 50% from the formal observation score, and 50% from the cumulative score of all walk-throughs. The domain average will then fall into an overall proficiency range. Based on each overall proficiency range, a specific overall rating is scored using a specific set of rules.
  6. Are new teachers expected to have all 3s and 4s?
    The goal is for all teachers to earn a Proficient (3) or Distinguished (4) level during observations.
  7. What do we have to do to earn/get a 4?
    The component summary document provides detailed information about how to earn 4s in each area. The modules — Teachscape Focus — also have detailed examples of level 4 performance.
  8. Can an evaluation be deleted/edited if there is a gross misrepresentation of the scoring/rating?
    No, evaluations cannot be deleted. If a teacher disagrees with the written formal observation summary, a second appraisal can be requested in writing within 10 workdays after receiving feedback from the first formal observation. If a second appraisal is requested by a teacher, a formal appraisal rating will be determined by using 60% of the ratings from the first appraisal and 40% of the ratings from the second appraisal.
  9. How many domain categories are fair to use during a 15-minute evaluation?
    Domains 2 & 3 will be used to rate teaching performance during a walk-through. Based on the lesson, some or all of the components for those domains may be scored.
  10. How and when are your goals used during each evaluation, i.e., 15-minute and 45-minute?
    Goals and action plans may be monitored throughout the year and could be used as supporting evidence for component ratings.
  11. Can scores be changed after the rater has submitted them? For example, can a 3 be changed to a 4?
    Yes, teachers may submit artifacts to support a particular rating. Also, post-conference feedback may be used to determine if a rating change is warranted. The final decision will be made by the appraiser based on the quality of the evidence submitted.
  12. What if you are scored on a domain that your rater did not witness? Can “N/A” be entered as a score?
    For walk-throughs, Domains 2 & 3 will be rated. Formal observations will include Domains 1-3. If evidence is not collected for a particular component during a walk-through or a formal observation, that score will be left blank. The teacher WILL NOT be penalized if evidence is not present.
  13. The reference to the manual is great, but I need the actual rubric used to rate me. The verbiage is vague – I don’t want to learn the philosophy behind how it’s going to be used or examples. Show me the actual scoring for my performance, otherwise all of my evaluations will be up for debate. Why is it rare that teachers are a 4 rather than the other way around?
    The component summary document provides the most detailed information; each component, if observed, will receive a rating of 1-4. Teachers may also access modules that demonstrate the various levels of performance using Teachscape Focus. In Enhancing Professional Practice: A Framework for Teaching (2007), Charlotte Danielson wrote, “Distinguished-level performance is a good place to visit, but don’t expect to live there.”
  14. If a teacher is out on FMLA and misses one of the district required staff developments, does that teacher need to make it up?
    Since FMLA is protected leave, the principal may approve a make-up for one session, but it cannot be required. Therefore, the teacher cannot be penalized for missing a district staff development day if on FMLA.
  15. If a teacher is out on FMLA and misses one of the district required staff developments, can that teacher still earn a rating of “Basic” for having attended all of the other staff developments?
    Yes, if the teacher did not meet the following requirement: Participates in an additional 24-36 staff development hours. The specific requirements may be found in Domain 4 of the Components Summary document.

Specialist Evaluations

  1. Is the district working on specific evaluations for specialists, such as skills coordinators?
    The plan for skills specialists’ evaluations is under discussion.
  2. Has there been any further discussion on the SLC classroom teachers and how they will be evaluated? TSC-SLC teachers as well, my classroom is out on the job site.
    No, SLC teacher’s duties are congruent with that of teachers; therefore, SLC teachers will follow the same rubric as teachers. Members of the special education department are available to clarify how SLC practices fit within the teacher rubric.
  3. I was told that teachers who work with non-verbal SLC students would not be able to earn 4s — is that accurate? Can the appraiser say across the board “no 4s”?
    No, SLC teachers can and have earned 4s. It is important to discuss room dynamics and relevant student needs with your administrators.
  4. For Domains 2 & 3 it seems to be difficult to attain 4s with SLC students – will areas be rewritten to include these teachers?
    No, SLC teachers will continue to use the teacher rubric. (See question #2)
  5. Are all areas of teaching – teachers in all areas of teaching and related service personnel – subject to the same requirements?
    Yes. All staff is evaluated for teacher practices using individualized rubrics. Rubrics are used for all teachers and “other staff.” They represent position-specific job responsibilities. All staff will also be evaluated using either SGP or SLO outcomes.
  6. A skills specialist does not have a classroom of his or her own. Is it fair to evaluate a person in somebody else’s classroom?
    The plans for specialists’ evaluations are still under discussion. Skills specialists will continue to be evaluated with the teacher rubric unless a change is submitted and approved by the board.
  7. On the INV10 – Artifacts, Domain 1lists Benchmarks and fluency data as a Scorecard requirement. However this is not used with SLC. Will we be marked down because of this?
    Teachers will not be marked down for areas that do not apply to their specific content area. The comment “if applicable to position” has been added to the form to clarify this point. Talk with your administrator if you have questions related to this. For example, a good discussion to have with your administrator might be about whether IEPs could be used as benchmark data.
  8. It seems that Special Ed. was not figured into this program. Will changes be made to have all areas of education represented?
    Some individualized rubrics were created for some special education programs. All others will follow the general teacher rubric. Section I of the manual contains a list of the other staff rubrics.
  9. I am a rotation teacher for music at my school; I see every student on my campus. Some groups and/or grade levels I feel can perform consistently in the 3-4 range, while others are consistently more in the 2 or even 1 range. It feels at times that my observation scores will be dictated by whoever happens to be on my schedule. How can I be sure that my evaluation is accurate?
    Communication is the key. Be sure to schedule a time with your appraiser to share your concerns. Ratings are earned based on teaching performance not student groups.

Artifacts

  1. Do we have to have an artifact for every domain and every component?
    Form INV10 lists required artifacts for each domain that must be submitted. Optional artifacts are just that — optional. Additional artifacts not listed on INV10 can be submitted using Form INV7. Teachers can make decisions about what evidence to include and for which components. Teachers will not be penalized for not submitting optional artifacts. Also, optional artifacts do not guarantee higher ratings.
  2. For all of the required artifacts listed, do you need to have all of them or at least one?
    All of the required artifacts must be turned in if they relate to your program or content area. If a required artifact does not relate to your program or content area, discuss it with your administrator.
  3. What are you supposed to do with your artifacts?
    The collection of artifacts may vary by campus. The principal at each campus will develop an artifact collection process.
  4. What happens if a teacher does not have a required artifact?
    If a required artifact is not submitted, this action may be used as evidence to support a particular rating.
  5. Is there a central location for “good” examples of binder artifacts and reflections?
    Not at this time.
  6. Scorecard requirements for Domain 3 — what is the journal? What does it consist of?
    This has been revised to read Student Journal, and is a required artifact for Domain 3. If a required artifact does not relate to your program or content area, discuss it with your administrator.

Goal Setting, Action Plans, and Other Documents

  1. Can a teacher make changes to the Beginning of the Year (BOY) Goal-Setting and Action Plan document if his or her goals change mid-year?
    Changes to Goals and Action Plans can only take place during the BOY process. Your administrator will help ensure that your goals are valid and attainable at your Goal Setting and Action Plan conference.

Pre- and Post-Conferences

  1. Is the pre-conference required before a 15-minute evaluation?
    No, pre-conferences are not required for walk-throughs.
  2. Is the post-conference required after a 15-minute evaluation?
    Post-conferences for Track 1A teachers are required for walk-throughs. For Track 1B & 2, if unsatisfactory in any component, post-conferences are required, otherwise post-conferences are optional
  3. How many conferences are required?
    The number of conferences required depends on a teacher’s track. For details on the different tracks and the number of conferences for each, refer to the Appraisal Timeline, which can be found on ePortal.

Attendance

  1. Are you marked down if you do not attend staff developments?
    Yes. The Component Professional Education hours will be rated in a Domain 4 component. The expectations are the same as those outlined in the Aldine Continuing Professional Education Brochure. One district-allocated staff development day (6 hours) may be made up if approved by the principal. The sessions must be completed outside of the school day.
  2. Why is it that, if you miss some days, it is unsatisfactory?
    The district has always valued good attendance from teachers because it is in the best interest of students to have their regular teacher in class. The components summary sheet lists the specific ratings for attendance: 0 absences – distinguished; 1-3 absences – proficient; 4-5 – basic; 6 or more – unsatisfactory.

Student Growth

  1. What test/data is being used for the student growth component for first grade?
    The Stanford 9 or Aprenda test is being used to determine student growth.
  2. Can classroom portfolios be used as part of measuring student growth?
    Classroom portfolios are considered artifacts, so they could potentially influence the Part A: Teacher Practices rating, but not student growth.
  3. If a student gets a schedule change and comes to me from a different teacher after the snap shot date, does his score count for me or for the other teacher?
    The student will be attributed to the teacher if they were enrolled prior to the ‘as-of date’ and are still enrolled in the class on the ‘verification date.’
  4. If a student comes to me after the snap shot date from a different school, but in the same district, does his score affect me?
    No, it does not. (See question #3)
  5. If a student comes from out of the state after the snap shot date, does this score count towards me or not?
    No, it does not. (See question #3)
  6. If a student was with me before the snap shot date but withdrew and comes back to me after the snap shot date, does this score count toward me?
    No, it does not. (See question #3)
  7. What is a growth model?
    The term growth model describes a method of measuring students’ learning progress on statewide assessments by tracking the test scores of the same students from one year to the next.
  8. How will Aldine measure student growth?
    Aldine will measure growth for an individual student by comparing the change in his/her TAKS/STAAR performance to all other students in Aldine who had similar TAKS/STAAR achievement results in previous years (the student’s “academic peers”). This change will be reported as a Student Growth Percentile (SGP) from 1 to 99.
  9. What is a student growth percentile?
    Student Growth Percentiles, or SGP, measure how much a student has learned compared to his or her academic peers. Growth percentiles are reported on a normative scale from 1 to 99 with higher percentiles indicating greater growth. The 50th growth percentile represents average growth.
  10. Who are the academic peers against whom a student’s being compared to generate SGPs?
    Academic peers are students who have similar TAKS/STAAR test score histories. SGP allows educators to see whether a student has progressed similar to, greater than, or less than comparable students.
  11. What do growth reports show that TAKS/STAAR and AYP reports don’t?
    Growth reports show the academic progress students made in relation to their academic peers (students with a similar TAKS/STAAR test results).
    TAKS/STAAR test results show the achievement level of students at the end of each school year (e.g., the percent of students who Did Not Meet Standard, Met Standard or achieved Commended Performance).
    Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) shows the increase or decrease in the percent of students that reached proficiency. It compares grade-level cohorts (e.g., this year’s 4th graders to last year’s 4th graders), not individual student’s growth.
  12. If my school made AYP, does that mean my students are growing faster than their academic peers?
    No. AYP determinations are based on absolute performance, and do not compare the same students’ growth over time.
  13. Is growth a better measure of student performance than TAKS/STAAR scores?
    If you want to know how well a student achieved on the standards for mathematics by the end of 6th grade, the TAKS/STAAR score will answer that question. If you are trying to determine how much a student’s performance changed from year to year relative to the student’s academic peers, the growth score will answer that question.
  14. What questions can a growth model help answer?
    Growth models help schools identify promising and underperforming programs, practices, and teachers. A growth model can answer questions such as:

    • How much academic progress did an individual or group of students make in one or more years?
    • How does an individual student’s growth compare to that of students with similar prior TAKS/STAAR test scores?
    • Is a student, school or teacher’s growth higher than, lower than, or similar to the growth of comparable students, schools or teachers?
    • Which schools or teachers demonstrate better than (or less than) average growth?
  15. Why did Aldine develop a growth model?
    Aldine developed a growth model to measure students’ academic progress and use that data to improve learning and instruction. Aldine aims to provide every student with a highly effective teacher.
  16. When will growth reports be available?
    Within the first eight weeks of the following school year.
  17. How will growth data be disseminated?
    Growth data will be delivered via a password protected secure Web site (https://thevaanetwork.com). Aldine administrators will enroll their teachers and school staff.
  18. What additional information will Aldine provide to teachers, administrators, and other education stakeholders about Aldine’s Measure of Student Learning Growth?
    Aldine principals will be trained during horizontal and vertical district meetings. In turn, they will deliver face-to-face presentations to teachers about the growth model. Several recorded Webinars describing the Aldine Growth Model can be viewed at https://thevaanetwork.com. A Quick Start Growth Guide will also answer additional questions.
  19. What does the median student growth percentile at my school, grade level, and classroom represent?
    The median student growth percentile is the midpoint of student growth percentiles in the school, grade level or classroom. Half of the students had student growth percentiles higher than the median; half had lower.
  20. Can the student growth percentile be interpreted the same way regardless of the grade level or subject matter?
    Yes. A student with a growth percentile of 70 improved more than 70 percent of his academic peers, whether that student is enrolled in grade 4, 5, 6, etc. Moreover, a student with a growth percentile of 70 in reading improved more than 70 percent of his academic peers in reading. And, a student with a growth percentile of 70 in mathematics improved more than 70 percent of his academic peers in mathematics.
  21. Can students who perform at the top range of the test, the Commended Performance level show growth?
    Yes. One of the strengths of the Student Growth Percentile model is that it measures growth at the top and bottom of the TAKS/STAAR performance scale equally well. All students, no matter where they start, have the opportunity to exhibit growth from the 1st to 99th percentile. SGP accounts for this by measuring each student’s growth relative to his or her academic peers.
  22. Research shows that there are correlations between a student’s socio-economic status and their achievement. Is the same true with growth?
    No. Numerous studies have established that the correlation between growth and economically disadvantaged students is weak and statistically insignificant.
  23. How many students are needed to calculate a teacher’s classroom growth?
    Ten students is the minimum.
  24. Is the Student Growth Percentile (SGP) approach as rigorous and fair as value-added analysis?
    The correlations between SGPs and VAM are high (.82 to .91), showing that both types of statistical analyses produce similar results.

INVEST and your career

  1. Do bad scores in INVEST affect whether you can be hired in Aldine?
    All rehire candidates will be considered based on their qualifications.
  2. How are teacher bonuses going to be attached to teacher evaluations?
    The district will be moving from a single salary statement to a compensation plan that is aligned to teaching performance. The plan is in the design stage. The goal is to recognize and reward highly effective teaching.

ISP and PGP

  1. Why would a teacher be placed on ISP?
    An ISP may be developed at any time if an appraiser has documentation of an event or pattern of teacher practice that could potentially produce a rating of basic or unsatisfactory in any of the four domains. An ISP can also be developed if a teacher receives a basic rating in two or more domains or an unsatisfactory rating in one or more domains. ISPs can be extended into the next school year.
  2. What if your cumulative score is 2.5 or higher and you still have more than three 2s on a 45-minute observation – can you be put on ISP?
    Yes, for the same reasons as listed above.
  3. How do you know if your evaluation results have placed you in a PGP?
    A PGP will be developed if all targeted components in the ISP do not have at least a .5 increase during the ISP period as demonstrated by walk-throughs and do not score at least proficient and/or 100% of the professional activities identified in the ISP are not successfully completed. A meeting will be held at the conclusion of the ISP where a formal letter will be given to the teacher reiterating the results of the ISP that contributed to the development of a PGP.
  4. Can you be placed on an ISP after a 15-minute walk-through or after the formal observation?
    Yes, an ISP may be developed at any time if an appraiser has documentation of an event or pattern of teacher practice that could potentially produce a rating of basic or unsatisfactory in any of the four domains. An ISP can also be developed if a teacher receives a basic rating in two or more domains or an unsatisfactory rating in one or more domains. ISPs can be extended into the next school year.

INVEST Roll-Out

  1. Are there any parts of INVEST that will slowly be coming to us? (I ask because every time I get my binder organized, I am given another form to fill out and add describing my artifacts)
    There are only two forms associated with Artifacts for INVEST:
    • INV10 – a form designed as a reference tool and a table of contents
    • INV7 – a form designed for optional artifacts only
  2. Would it be possible to get a paper copy of the manual for those who don’t prefer the online manual? I find it easier to look at all the documentation on paper, so it can be easier to refer back to.
    The manual may be accessed and printed from ePortal.

General INVEST Questions

  1. On my campus, the principal always relates everything to INVEST. He or she almost holds it over staff heads. Example: Who’s signed up for _________? (If no one has signed up, then INVEST is mentioned.) What is required?
    INVEST is not an isolated system. It is designed to evaluate the effectiveness of the person in carrying out the responsibilities of their job. Therefore, daily actions and requirements will directly affect performance ratings.
  2. After I watched my videos on Teachscape, they were no longer available anymore. Is there another way to re-watch the videos?
    Every employee has access to the modules, FOCUS. They should be available throughout the school year. However, you must re-register each year. Principals will be able to guide you through the procedure.
  3. This is the first time I have heard of anything being on the ePortal. Could this important information be sent out by the district since I have never been told of these resources by my school?
    Administrators should inform employees about the ePortal during INVEST training.
  4. What happened to the Teachscape videos made by PK in Aldine a few years ago? There was never any feedback or availability for the teachers to view scored ones.
    Some PK videos were selected for training purposes. However, LEARN is available for teachers to view. There is an early childhood series in the library for teachers to access. Ask your principal for more information about accessing the videos.

Administrators

  1. On the ISP, is there a specific outline for administrators to follow as far as what they ask the teacher to do? In observations of others? So many hours of in-service? Is that in the manual someplace?
    The development of an ISP should be tailored to the individual needs of the teacher. The areas to be addressed should align with one or more of the individual components in which the teacher is struggling. However, a structured framework is identified on INV 5. A minimum of 3 walk-throughs is required during an ISP. Post-conferences are also required after each walk-through. An ISP is to be developed collaboratively between the teacher and the appraiser.
  2. What training do administrators have in the INVEST “conversation” component about explaining ratings and talking to the teacher in a professional way after a walk- through?
    Some need more. Principals are trained in various formats on enhanced communication through using specific feedback and on critical elements for INVEST, including difficult conversations.
Why is Aldine ISD making changes to the compensation plan for teachers and staff evaluated under Invest?
This change will move compensation away from an arbitrary seniority system that increases teacher pay based solely on years of service, regardless of the effectiveness of the teacher, and toward a performance based system that rewards all highly effective professionals. This puts compensation in line with district goals of providing each student with a highly effective teacher as well as recruiting and retaining highly effective teachers.

When does the change take place?
The new compensation plan will take effect for the 2016-2017 school year.

How will the new plan work?
The new compensation plan will take effect for the 2016-2017 school year based on ratings from the 2015-2016 school year. Two pay increases are part of the plan for eligible employees. See board policy DEA (Local) and DEAA (Local) to see what conditions cause an employee to be ineligible. You can find the board policy on the website www.aldineisd.org, then go to the About tab, then go to Leadership à School Board à Policies.
All eligible district staff (including teachers) would receive a percentage increase to their base pay as approved by the board with the 2016-2017 budget.
Eligible teachers and staff appraised with Invest and rated “Highly Effective” in Part A: Teacher Practice will receive variable pay in addition to any Board approved increase noted in step 1. The one-time payment would be paid in January 2017.
The amount of any board approved increase or variable pay for teachers will depend on the needs and financial considerations of the district.

Will Part B: Student Growth be used for compensation?
Aldine ISD will NOT use Part B: Student Growth data for compensation purposes for the 2016-2017 school year. The district DOES plan to use that data for compensation at some point in the future.

Will the variable pay based on Part A: Teacher Practice become a permanent part of my salary?
The compensation based on Part A: Teacher Practice will be variable pay, so it will NOT become part of a teacher’s permanent salary. Teachers will be eligible to receive variable pay in consecutive years, based on their performance on Part A: Teacher Practice.

What if I am rated Highly Effective in Part A: Teacher Practice for the 2015-16 school year but leave the district at the end of the year?
To receive variable pay for ratings in the 2015-16 school year, the teacher or staff member must be employed with the district for the 2016-17 school year.

Does the compensation plan affect paraprofessionals?
This plan is focused on teachers and professional staff who are rated under Invest.

General FAQ Answers

What is a growth model?
The term growth model describes a method of measuring students’ learning progress on statewide assessments by tracking the test scores of the same students from one year to the next.

How will Aldine measure student growth?
Aldine will measure growth for an individual student by comparing the change in his/her TAKS/STAAR performance to all other students in Aldine who had similar TAKS/STAAR achievement results in previous years (the student’s “academic peers”). This change will be reported as a Student Growth Percentile (SGP) from 1 to 99.

For which grades and subjects will Aldine report growth?
In 2011, Aldine will report growth for Reading and mathematics in grades 4 through 9. In future years, other grade levels and subjects will be added.

What do growth reports show that TAKS/STAAR and AYP reports don’t?
Growth reports show the academic progress students made in relation to their academic peers (students with a similar TAKS/STAAR test results).
TAKS/STAAR show the achievement level of students at the end of each school year (e.g., the percent of students who Did Not Meet Standard, Met Standard or achievedCommended Performance).
Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) shows the increase of decrease in the percent of students that reached proficiency. It compares grade-level cohorts (e.g., this year’s 4th graders to last year’s 4th graders), not individual student’s growth.

Is growth a better measure of student performance than TAKS/STAAR scores?
If you want to know how well a student achieved on the standards for mathematics by the end of 6th grade, the TAKS/STAAR score will answer that question. If you are trying to determine how much a student’s performance changed from year to year relative to the student’s academic peers, the growth score will answer that question.

What questions can a growth model help answer?
Growth models help schools identify promising and underperforming programs, practices, and teachers. A growth model can answer questions such as:

  • How much academic progress did an individual or group of students make in one or more years?
  • How does an individual student’s growth compare to that of students with similar prior TAKS/STAAR test scores?
  • Is a student, school or teacher’s growth higher than, lower than, or similar to the growth of comparable students, schools or teachers?
  • Which schools or teachers demonstrate better than (or less than) average growth?

Why did Aldine develop a growth model?
Aldine developed a growth model to measure students’ academic progress and use that data to improve learning and instruction. Aldine aims to provide every student with a highly effective teacher.

When will growth reports be available?
Aldine educators can expect to receive their growth data each year in the summer or early fall.

How will growth data be disseminated?
Growth data will be delivered via a password protected secure Web site (https://thevaanetwork.com). Aldine administrators will enroll their teachers and school staff.

What additional information will Aldine provide to teachers, administrators, and other education stakeholders about Aldine’s Measure of Student Learning Growth?
Aldine principals will be trained during horizontal and vertical district meetings. In turn, they will deliver face-to-face presentations to teachers about the growth model. Several recorded Webinars describing the Aldine Growth Model can be viewed athttps://thevaanetwork.com. Finally, a Quick Start Growth Guide and detailed FAQ will answer additional questions.

Specific FAQ Answers

What is a student growth percentile?
Student Growth Percentiles, or SGP, measure how much a student has learned compared to his or her academic peers. Academic peersare students who have similar TAKS/STAAR test scores. SGP allows educators to see whether a student has progressed similar to, greater than, or less than comparable students.
Growth percentiles are reported on a normative scale from 1 to 99 with higher percentiles indicating greater growth. The 50th growth percentile represents average growth.

Against whom are students being compared to generate SGPs?
Each student is compared to his or her academic peers (i.e., other students in Aldine with similar TAKS/STAAR test score histories). This makes for a fair growth comparison because it allows us to describe the growth in student learning compared to other students that started at equivalent achievement levels.

What does the median student growth percentile at my school, grade level, and classroom represent?
The median student growth percentile is the midpoint of student growth percentiles in the school, grade level or classroom. Half of the students had student growth percentiles higher than the median; half had lower.

Can the student growth percentile be interpreted the same way regardless of the grade level or subject matter?
Yes. A student with a growth percentile of 70 improved more than 70 percent of his academic peers, whether that student is enrolled in grade 4, 5, 6, etc. Moreover, a student with a growth percentile of 70 in reading improved more than 70 percent of his academic peers in reading. And, a student with a growth percentile of 70 in mathematics improved more than 70 percent of his academic peers in mathematics.

Can students who perform at the top range of the test, the Commended Performancelevel show growth?
Yes. One of the strengths of the Student Growth Percentile model is that it measures growth at the top and bottom of the TAKS/STAAR performance scale equally well. All students no matter where they start have the opportunity to exhibit growth from the 1stto 99th percentile. SGP accounts for this by measuring each student’s growth relative to his or her academic peers.

Research shows that there are correlations between a student’s socio-economic status and their achievement. Is the same true with growth?
No. Numerous studies have established that the correlation between growth and economically disadvantaged students is weak and statistically insignificant.

If my school made AYP, does that mean my students are growing faster than their academic peers?
No. AYP determinations are based on absolute performance, and do not compare the same students’ growth over time.

Aldine Workgroup FAQ Answers

What percentage of each teacher’s evaluation will be based on his/her students’ learning growth?
The Workgroup recommends 50 percent.

Is student learning growth for a teacher based on teachers in his/her respective school, or teachers in the entire district?
Student learning growth for teachers is based on all the students in Aldine ISD.

How many students are needed to calculate a teacher’s classroom growth?
Eight students is the minimum, however, more students produce more reliable growth results.

Will the district implement a roster verification process to ensure the teacher on record taught the students assigned to her?
Yes. Beginning in Spring 2012, during the last week of school, Central Office will ask each principal to sign off on the accuracy of his/her school’s roster data.

How many days does the student need to be in a teacher’s classroom to be counted in the analysis?
The Snapshot Date and First Administration Test will be used to calculate each teacher’s classroom growth.

How will Kindergarten to third grade teachers’ growth be calculated?
The Workgroup is researching a variety of standardized assessments. They will select and recommend an assessment to be administered in spring 2012. The standardized test data will be used to calculate student learning growth for teachers in grades 1 to 3.

How will high school teachers’ growth be calculated?
For 10th and 11th grade English teachers, student learning growth will be calculated using the Language Arts assessment. For social studies, science and math teachers, because there are no pre-test(s), the Workgroup recommends using pre-requisite test(s) to calculate student learning growth on the EOCs (e.g., using the Algebra test to calculate learning growth for Chemistry). The Workgroup recommends piloting this approach in 2012. Similar methods are being used in other states and large school districts.

For teachers whose students don’t take state tests (specialists, middle school social studies and science teachers, various high school teachers without EOCs, counselors, etc.), how will student growth factor into their evaluation?
This question is being addressed by a different workgroup, and the district leadership.

Should demographic variables be included in the growth analysis?
Analyses of Aldine students’ growth demonstrate demographic variables do not affect student learning growth, and should not be included in the growth model.

Will the growth in teachers’ classrooms always be normative?
Yes. However, to guard against misclassification, standard errors of measurement are employed. That means, roughly 68% of Aldine teachers will fall into the effective range, 17% highly effective and 17% ineffective.

Are Special Ed., Title 1, and other co-teachers accurately identified in the district data system?
Yes. The only teachers not identified are Title 1 Pull out & RTI teachers.

Will the model address cases where classrooms have students who are serious discipline problems?
No, this data is not collected and stored in the district database.

Is the Student Growth Percentile (SGP) approach as rigorous and fair as value-added analysis?
The correlations between SGPs and VAM are high (.82 to .91), showing that both types of statistical analyses produce similar results.

How will Aldine make sure principals and teachers understand the difference between percentiles & percent when interpreting SGP results?
Principals are being trained in SGPs during horizontal and vertical district meetings. Principals and Workgroup members are giving presentations about SGPs to teachers and the community. In addition, there are online Webinars, this FAQ, and the Aldine Growth Model Guide to educate employees.

On the scatter plots, how do you determine which students are in the “low, average and high” achievement categories?
We divide the total number of students in a classroom into thirds based on their pretest scores. Low, middle and high achievement is relative to each classroom.

Will alternative schools be included in the growth analyses, even though they don’t have students for the requisite number of days?
No.

Teacher Practices

 
1. What will be included in the new evaluation instrument?
  The focus of the new system will be to improve instruction and to inform teachers about their performance to help guide their practice.  The instrument will include an teacher practices from the Charlotte Danielson Framework and a student growth component supported by Dr. John Schacter.
2. What will the Danielson framework measure?
  There are four domains in the Danielson framework.

  • Domain I – Planning and Preparation
  • Domain II –  The Classroom Environment
  • Domain III –  Instruction
  • Domain IV –  Professional Responsibilities
3. When is the new instrument scheduled for implementation?
  The teacher practices section is projected to launch in fall 2012.  However, due to the change in testing, the student growth component date has not been determined. 
 

Student Growth

 
Growth Model Quick Start Guide
 
The Aldine Independent School District’s growth model provides a powerful tool to understand students’ learning progress. Using the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills tests (TAKS), and a statistical approach called Student Growth Percentiles, Aldine will report the yearly academic progress of schools, teachers and students.
What are Student Growth Percentiles?
Student Growth Percentiles, or SGP, measure how much a student has learned compared to his or her academic peers. Academic peers are students who have similar initial TAKS test scores. SGP allows educators to see whether a student has progressed similar to, greater than, or less than comparable students.
Why is comparison to academic peers important?
Comparing students to other students with similar TAKS scores creates a fairer picture of their growth, because the comparison takes into account each student’s starting point.
How does SGP show a student’s growth?
SGP measures the rate of change students make in relation to their academic peers. This rate of change is reported as a percentile from 1 to 99. Higher percentiles indicate more growth; lower percentiles show less progress. Much like in other normative scales, the 50th growth percentile suggests average.
Who receives growth percentiles?
Growth percentiles will be calculated for students and teachers in grades 4 to 9 that have TAKS scores for Reading and Mathematics. In future years, other subject areas will be added. Administrators and teachers in Aldine schools can access their Student Growth Percentile (SGP) results in February 2012 at https://thevaanetwork.com.
How will the Aldine use Student Growth Percentile data?
The District intends to use SGP data as one measure to:
  • evaluate teachers and schools;
  • guide professional development decisions;
  • evaluate various school interventions.
Where can I learn more about Student Growth Percentiles?
You can learn more about student growth percentiles through a series of face-to-face presentations delivered by Aldine Independent School District staff, recorded Webinars athttps://thevaanetwork.com, and by reading the Aldine Independent School District’s Growth Model FAQ.

 

Growth Model Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

 
General FAQ Answers
 
1. What is a growth model? 
The term growth model describes a method of measuring students’ learning progress on statewide assessments by tracking the test scores of the same students from one year to the next.

 

2. How will Aldine measure student growth? 
Aldine will measure growth for an individual student by comparing the change in his/her TAKS performance to all other students in Aldine who had similar TAKS achievement results in previous years (the student’s “academic peers”). This change will be reported as a Student Growth Percentile (SGP) from 1 to 99.

 

3. For which grades and subjects will Aldine report growth?
Aldine will initially report growth for Reading and mathematics in grades 4 through 9. In future years, other subjects may be added.

 

4. What do growth reports show that TAKS and AYP reports don’t?
Growth reports display information about how much academic progress students made in relation to their academic peers (students with a similar TAKS test results). The TAKS report presents information about the achievement level of students at the end of each school year, displaying the percent of students who Did Not Meet Standard, Met Standard or achieved Commended Performance.
Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) provides information about how close a school is to helping all students reach or exceed proficiency. It focuses on comparisons of grade-level cohorts (e.g., this year’s 4th graders compared to last year’s 4th graders), not individual student’s growth.

 

5. Is growth a better measure of student performance than TAKS scores?
If you want to know how well a student achieved on the standards for mathematics by the end of 6th grade, the TAKS score and performance level will answer that question. If you are trying to determine how much a student’s performance changed from year to year relative to the student’s academic peers, the growth model will answer that question.

 

6. What questions can a growth model help answer? 
Growth models allow schools to identify promising and underperforming programs, practices, and teachers. A growth model can help answer questions such as:
  1. How much academic progress did an individual or group of students make in one or more years?
  2. How does an individual student’s growth compare to that of students with similar prior TAKS test scores?
  3. Is a student, school or teacher’s growth higher than, lower than, or similar to the growth of comparable students, schools or teachers?
  4. Which schools or teachers demonstrate better than (or less than) average growth?

 

7. Why did Aldine develop a growth model? 
Aldine developed a growth model to measure students’ academic progress and use that data to improve learning and instruction. Aldine aims to provide every student with a highly effective teacher. One way to determine an effective teacher is by measuring the student learning growth each teacher produces. Aldine’s teachers’ growth percentiles will be used as one part of a rigorous and comprehensive teacher evaluation system.

 

8. When will growth reports be available? 
Aldine educators can expect to receive their growth data in February 2012. In subsequent years, results will be available in late August.

 

9. How will growth data be disseminated?
Growth data will be delivered via a password protected secure Web site (https://thevaanetwork.com). Aldine administrators can enroll teachers providing them with access to their school’s and students’ growth and achievement results.

 

10. What additional information will Aldine provide to teachers, administrators, and other education stakeholders on how growth data is calculated and used? Where can I find this information?
Aldine principals will be delivering face-to-face presentations to teachers about the growth model. Recorded Webinars describing the Aldine growth model can be viewed at https://thevaanetwork.com, and finally, educators can read the Quick Start Guide to familiarize themselves with how student growth will be measured. Questions not answered by this FAQ should be emailed to [email protected]

 

Specific Questions
 
 

 

11. What is a student growth percentile?
Student Growth Percentiles, or SGP, measure how much a student has learned compared to his or her academic peers. Academic peers are students who have similar TAKS test scores. SGP allows educators to see whether a student has progressed similar to, greater than, or less than comparable students. Growth percentiles are reported on a normative scale from 1 to 99 with higher percentiles indicating greater growth. They can be interpreted as follows: if Maria Santos, currently a grade 5 student, has a student growth percentile of 65 in reading, that means that Maria improved more between grades 4 and 5 than 65 percent of students with a similar TAKS test score history. Similarly, if Maria had a student growth percentile of 44 in mathematics, it means that she improved more than 44 percent of students with similar TAKS math scores.

 

12. Against whom are students being compared to generate SGPs?
Each student is compared to his or her academic peers (i.e., other students in Aldine with similar TAKS test score histories). This makes for a fair growth estimation because it allows us to describe the growth in student learning compared to other students that started at equivalent achievement levels.

13. What does the median student growth percentile at my school, grade level, and classroom represent?
The median student growth percentile is the midpoint of student growth percentiles in the school, grade level or classroom. Half of the students had student growth percentiles higher than the median; half had lower. This is a good way of describing the growth of students in the school, grade or class. It is not appropriate to use the average (“mean”) when reporting percentiles, because percentiles are not on an equal interval scale.

 

14. Can the student growth percentile be interpreted the same way regardless of the grade level or the test’s subject matter?
Yes. A student with a growth percentile of 70 improved more than 70 percent of his academic peers, whether that student is enrolled in grade 4, 5, 6, 7, etc. Moreover, a student with a growth percentile of 70 in reading improved more than 70 percent of his academic peers in reading. And, a student with a student growth percentile of 70 in mathematics improved more than 70 percent of his academic peers in mathematics.

 

15. Can students who perform at the top range of the test, say the Commended Performance level show growth?
Yes. One of the strengths of the Student Growth Percentile model is that it measures growth at the top and bottom of the TAKS performance scale equally well. All students no matter where they start have the opportunity to exhibit growth from the 1st to 99th percentile. SGP accounts for this by measuring each student’s growth relative to his or her academic peers.

 

16. Research shows that there are correlations between a student’s socio-economic status and their achievement on the TAKS. Is the same true with growth?
No. Numerous studies have established that there is a strong correlation between economically disadvantaged students and their achievement level. The correlation between growth and economically disadvantaged students is weak and statistically insignificant.

 

17. If my school made AYP, does that mean my students are growing faster than their academic peers?

No. AYP determinations are based on absolute performance, and do not compare the same students’ growth over time. It is, therefore, possible for schools to make AYP and have low growth, if most of the school’s students have performed at the Proficient level, and they grow more slowly than that of their academic peers. Likewise, it is possible for a school to have most of its students growing at high rates and still not make AYP.

18. How will inclusion teachers get paid extra money based on their students’ performance (when they tie the appraisal to our pay rate/stipend)?
The new system will not allocate extra pay based on student performance at this time.  The objective is to eventually link teacher performance, based on teacher practices and student growth, to compensation.  Although this is a goal of the district, implementation is undetermined at this point.

19.  How will growth be measured in electives?
The measurement tools will recommended by the work group members.