SC superintendent to present evaluation plans

Superintendent Mick Zais is presenting his plan for evaluating teachers and principals.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH / AP) -- Superintendent Mick Zais is presenting his plan for evaluating teachers and principals.

The discussion Monday night in Columbia is the last in a series of public meetings. Hundreds of educators have attended similar gatherings in Beaufort, Greenville, Charleston and Florence.

Evaluating educators based on performance is a required part of the state's exemption from the all-or-nothing provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind law. The U.S. Education Department approved South Carolina's application in July.

But educators are upset about plans to include a school's overall performance as part of their individual grades.

They also don't like the idea of giving teachers letter grades. State Board of Education leaders said last month they have no intention of approving letter grades for the evaluation system set to start statewide in 2014.

The South Carolina Education Association hopes to have the following questions answered by Zais:

Q: Why should teachers be given letter-grades when hundreds of millions of other adults don't receive them in their evaluations?

Q: This plan bases up to 30% of a teacher's evaluation on schoolwide test the teacher has never seen. Won't using school wide scores to evaluate teachers discourage them from working in struggling schools?

Q: The US Dept of Education found the value-added data used in this plan to have a 36% error rate. Leading researchers with the National Academy of Sciences said that "Value-added estimates of teacher effectiveness...are far too unstable to be considered fair or reliable." and "should not be used to make operational decisions." How can such data be suitable for professional evaluation?

Q: The ESEA waiver document produced by the SC Dept of Ed states, " The Department does not anticipate that teacher objections will be an impediment to implementation." Why was the Department determined to override teacher objections? Why not collaborate to create a plan that would be seen as legitimate?

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)