Schools delay using tests for hiring

By Chris Kieffer

Daily Journal

Student growth on state tests will not be used to guide the hiring and firing of Mississippi teachers and principals until spring 2018.

Mississippi and Nevada became the first two states to be granted waivers by the U.S. Department of Education to delay that process by one year. The federal department announced the waiver Wednesday.

The states had agreed to new evaluation processes – increasing accountability for teachers and principals – in order to receive a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law. Mississippi’s new MSTAR teacher evaluation process uses both the results of administrator observations and student growth data on state tests.

Mississippi schools will continue implementing their evaluation systems, MDE spokeswoman Patrice Guilfoyle said. The waiver will allow them more time before using growth data from student tests to inform hiring and firing decisions, as well as to determine advancement, salaries and bonuses.

Next year, Mississippi switches to a new state test because of its adoption of the Common Core State Standards, new math and language arts guidelines fully adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia.

The delay will give teachers and principals more time to adjust to the new tests, Guilfoyle said.

“You don’t want personnel decisions to come from the first year of a new test,” she said.

The first test data used for personnel decisions now will be from the 2016-17 school year.

District leaders will receive that data during the summer or fall of 2017 and use it for decisions on which teachers to hire for the 2018-19 school year.

In June, the USDE announced it was open to requests from states that wanted to postpone making personnel decisions based on student growth data from the new tests for up to one year.

Thirty-four states and D.C. were eligible for the flexibility. Some states didn’t apply, and others have applications that still are pending.

chris.kieffer@journalinc.com