- Associated Press - Thursday, April 3, 2014

ATLANTA (AP) - Student test scores are part of a new teacher and principal evaluation system that won final approval from the state Board of Education on Thursday.

Board members approved of implementing the Teacher Keys Effectiveness System and the Leader Keys Effectiveness System at public and charter schools by the 2014-15 school year, officials said in a news release.

Ratings for educators under the new system will range from one to four. The ratings will include: exemplary, proficient, needs development or ineffective. Proficient is the target rating for teachers and principals, state education officials said.

Aside from tracking student achievement, the programs will also require school systems to base decisions on employee retention, promotion, compensation and other staffing issues on results of the evaluations.

Based on the results of a pilot program, the Department of Education expects the evaluation system to improve communication and collaboration among school staff, Georgia School Superintendent John Barge said in a release.

“Full implementation of the Teacher Keys Effectiveness System and Leader Keys Effectiveness System is an important step toward providing the best possible instruction for all of Georgia’s students,” Barge said.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (https://bit.ly/1ovP0ZX ) reports that observations will count for half of a teacher’s evaluation. Teachers and principals who are found to need improvement or who are deemed ineffective in two years within any five-year period and don’t seek training or counseling won’t have their teaching certificate renewed, the newspaper reported.

The evaluation system has raised some concerns about educators being punished for factors beyond their control having negative impacts on student test scores.

Some of the 35 Atlanta Public Schools educators who were indicted in a test-cheating and racketeering scandal cited pressure to show student improvement as a factor in the scandal. Some educators have said they believed student test scores put their jobs at stake.

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