Charleston teacher evaluations questioned for emphasis on test scores

CCSD Superintendent Dr. Gerrita Postlewait greets students and parents on first day of school.

CHARLESTON (WCBD) – A growing number of teachers want the Charleston County School District to offer more clarification on how staff is being evaluated.

While South Carolina uses four main criteria when assessing teachers — including planning, instruction, the classroom environment, and their professionalism — there is concern test scores are weighed too heavily in the evaluation process.

Patrick Hayes, director of the teacher advocacy group, EdFirstSC, said teachers feel uncertain about specific elements of the process. He contends Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait tried to fire teachers by targeting them for low test scores.

“Dr. Postlewait has demonstrated a clear pattern of deception, abuse of power, and misplaced priorities,” said Hayes. “Her leadership has brought the district into chaos and crisis.”

He also said “teachers welcome sound evaluations,” but the manner in which the county is using test scores to review standards in the classroom is “unethical and unprofessional.”

“We have the superintendent saying we want to use test scores to fire people. That was back in February when she was talking to the board in a private session in the middle of the day. And so the stories are not adding up,” he said.

Responding to a request for comment on whether there is a miscommunication on test scores, the county said in a statement that it continues “to maintain the belief and practice that no single criteria should be used to measure the quality of education being provided to the children of Charleston County School District.”

Erica Taylor, Chief Strategy and Communications Officer, added: “We are committed to providing equitable opportunities for all students to learn and to providing the support our teachers need to make this possible.”

Back in April, CCSD said in a memo the test scores are simply a component of teacher contracts. The memo provided notice that meetings with school principals were occurring to discuss “contract renewals,” and established test scores were used in the contract decision process.

At the school board’s next meeting in June, they will talk about principal hiring strategies. The district decision to reassign principles in the county sparked an outcry from parents earlier this year.

 

 

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