Test scores will now play part in teacher, principal evaluations

How much weight they will carry is still unknown

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Test scores for the first time will play a part in evaluating teachers and principals, under new laws passed this spring. It is yet undetermined how much weight students' results will have in their teachers' performance reviews. Details remain to be worked out, said Nathan Olson, spokesman for the state schools superintendent.

The new teacher evaluation system is one reason why Washington received a waiver from federal rules this year.

One component of the federal No Child Left Behind Act requires that all students pass their reading and math assessments by 2014. Schools each year were graded on whether they had made strides toward that goal, with a rating system called Adequate Yearly Progress.

Under the old rules, schools faced increasingly strict sanctions for each year they didn't make AYP. These sanctions could eventually include a mandate to reorganize staff or even close the school. Under a waiver granted to Washington — and at least half of all other states — it now will use a different system.

State officials now will look at the progress made by certain, traditionally disadvantaged student populations. These include black, Hispanic, Asian and special education students, as well as students receiving free or reduced-price lunch, and others. By 2017, these groups will need to halve the gap between their 2011 scores and a perfect score.

For example, if Hispanic students at a certain school scored an average of 80 percent on their reading tests in 2011, by 2017, Hispanics at that school would have to average a score of 90 in order to meet standards.

The new score will be called Annual Measurable Objectives, or AMO. It will be released in late September, Olson said.