Murphy, teachers spar over appraisal system

There’s trouble brewing in the Evanston/Skokie District 65 school system over how teachers should be evaluated, and it erupted again Monday night at the board’s monthly “working” session.

Basically, the dispute boils down to concern by the teachers that a new appraisal system that makes them accountable for “student growth” is flawed and could unfairly punish them and possibly be detrimental to a teacher's career.
Superintendent Hardy Murphy, who is ultimately the decider when it comes to the means for carrying out the board’s wishes, contended that under the present system, teachers are rewarded even when their students don’t show progress.

Chute Principal McHolland, flanked by other school principals, speaks in favor of the plan.
For the third meeting in a row, teachers packed the audience and paraded a group of speakers to the lectern Monday during the “public comment” portion of the meeting to deride the plan, which they feel is particularly harmful to them in classes with special education students who, for no fault of their own or their teachers, are unable to do well on standardized tests that measure class performance.
But Murphy, in an emotional presentation he made from the “public comment” lectern, rather than from his seat at the board table, noted that in 30 classrooms across the district last year, less than half the students met projected growth standards;  yet their teachers received “excellent” or “satisfactory” ratings.
“These students walk into our classrooms,” he said, “and they spend a year in there, and it’s a coin flip who is going to continue down the trail to college and career readiness. That’s just unacceptable.”
The District Educators Council (DEC), the union for District 65 teachers, is asking the board to operate the new system as a pilot project for this year and to move up implementation of the Illinois Performance Evaluation Reform Act (PERA), which districts are required to have in operation by the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year.
While PERA also involves student growth data as part of teacher evaluation, it requires that districts develop their plans in partnership with the teachers.
Murphy proposed to the board that it continue to implement the new appraisal system with oversight by a research firm to validate the results and to address any concerns.
A group of principals from the district’s schools were in attendance at Monday’s meeting and jointly addressed the board through its spokesman, Chute Middle School Principal James McHolland. The principals said they support the new appraisal system as one that would be helpful to them in evaluating teacher performance.
Actually, the reason for putting the appraisal system on Monday’s agenda, according to Board President Katie Bailey, was to decide whether the Board should vote on the new system or leave it up to Murphy, as some board members felt that it was the board’s job to set policy and goals while it was Murphy’s responsibility to determine the means for carrying out those goals.
While no formal vote was taken Monday, Bailey noted that members Eileen Budde, Richard Rykhus, Tracy Quattrocki and herself thought the issue was too important not to put it up for a vote.
“We’ll be voting on it in two weeks,” she declared as she brought the discussion to a close.


Principal testimony?

Ok, who hires and evaluates principals?  Supt. Murphy.  This is the typical overly rushed reform initiative that leads to teacher bashing.   Since when did piloting and testing an idea before scaling up become unwise?  Kudos to the school board for having the courage to be a board.  

Teaching to the Test

Beyond the obvious procedural problems with this new evaluation system (really--in what professional environment is there no pilot program for a change this broad?), and the ethical problems (the administration's clear lack of respect for teachers or even dissenting board members),  as a parent my main concern involves the classroom environment that will result from this evaluation system. 
My son is not the best test-taker and he worries about tests for days in advance when he knows they are coming.  We gear up for important tests by making sure he is well-rested, well-fed, and that he feels "good" on the day he takes a test.  We spend time each night reviewing homework assignments, investing in math games and as many books as he wants to read.  Then we tell him he's a smart kid and that we love him and scoot him out the door. But here's the thing--he's only in third grade.  It is ridiculous that a third grader experiences any type of test anxiety, especially one who, while not in top percentiles, performs squarely at grade level.  And yet even without the new evaluation system the focus in many classrooms is on test-taking and making parents aware of where their children fit on a MAP testing chart. 
 Once this new system is in place, I can only imagine what will result.  What is a teacher supposed to do about the kids who don't have support at home?  Kids who come to school who aren't emotionally or psychologically in a place that they can score well on a test on a given day?  These are children we're talking about, not adults.  I'll tell you what the teachers will do--they will diminish the time they spend teaching art, music, or any other types of creative and useful educational activities and start teaching to every test.  And can you blame them?  I can't.  They have their own families to support.  They don't want their formal evaluations which, under the new law, could cause them to lose their jobs, to be adversely affected by the scores of several eight-year-olds on a given day.     No one wants that. 
I think it is time for parents in the community to step up and defend what is left of the well-rounded public education our children deserve.  For starters, I would like to know exactly which principals have spoken in the public comments section of the meetings.  I volunteer to be the first to call my son's principal and voice my displeasure.  This is not where my tax money is supposed to be going. 

Teacher Tenure

I'm sure there are a number of good teachers in Evanston schools [whether they are given proper recognition and given rein to teach in the manner they want or held back, is another question].

But there are bad teachers and they need to be cleared out.  The following is about student's efforts in California to change tenure and make it easier to get rid---quickly---of bad teachers instead of the never ending system require now.

The schools are there for the students not the teacher or administrators or the Board---or ANY employee.


And if there are bad teachers, who is responsible for that?  Do administrators take no responsibility for not getting rid of them before they get tenure?  Blame unions, however, there are procedures in place for removing ANYONE tenured or not from a classroom.

But it takes years and $$$

To say they can get rid of them, has no meaning when it can take years and really big bucks and administrative time [if they even try]. 

And of course the students continue suffering.

Teachers like everyone else should be under contract for each two year period with clear and enforcable standard for getting rid of bad teachers even during that period---and quickly.

Dr. Murphy's "leadership" or lack thereof

I can understand the consternation of teachers with this proposed appraisal system. Evanston supports outstanding teachers and their efforts with all of our children. People who spend time in the classrooms realize the challenges confronting our teachers. Many are outstanding, some are effective, and some need additional support to develop and some need to be removed from the classroom.
We need an appropriate appraisal system that will provide consistent and accurate information so that teachers can be evaluated in a professional context. The current one doesn't work.
Given the importance of this process, and the fact that 100% of the stakeholders will not agree on all the issues, Dr. Murphy's leadership is critically important.
His modus operandi has been "divide and conquer," "provide misleading, inaccurate or incorrect data," and "stack the deck." I've watched this approach for 10+ years and it won't change.
His approach has instilled mistrust amongst administrators and teachers. That's one of the reasons for all the angst.
Effectively it's a "no confidence vote in his leadership."

Testing is useless

I got a call from my student's teacher this fall because she was concerned that a MAP score had dropped from Spring to Fall.  I  wasn't worried about it all because a) standardized tests have never been a proper reflection of my kids success in school and b) I had a pretty good idea why my students scores dropped....My suspicions were confirmed: per my student: "We get scored on how much we improve from Fall to Spring so I didn't try at all" and "I hate taking reading tests on the computer-you can't underline anything or make notes and its really difficult  to scroll all the way back up through the reading passage to answer the questions".   So what was measured here? 
I feel for Hypatia-her 3rd grader is just getting started!  i was prepared when my youngest hit 3rd grade with the knowledge that it was a wasted year and little would be learned that year except how to take a test.
Why-with all that we know about how kids learn and how successful educational systems work-is the US educatonal system still depending on and excited about standardized testing?  Someone's making a lot of money somewhere

What was measured

What was measured was your child's laziness and failure to adapt.  Looking at this through the eyes of an employer, not someone I'd want to hire.

Oh snap!

Wow! Cranky much? 
 You must know nothing about kids-her response showed creativity, ability to analyze a situation and think outside the box.  When you are told by your teachers that you are measured on your GROWTH from Fall to Spring, why on earth would you put any effort into your Fall scores?  And her reasoning for why the whole idea of taking reading comprehension tests on a computer is very insightful and shows the opposite of laziness-she's trying to take notes, underline important passages, show her work-all tactics that are taught by teachers for effective test-taking!
Don't worry-she's getting all high As, won't be job hunting anytime soon, and years from now, when she is employed-she'll be the one doing the hiring.  Start working on your résumé now.

Principal evaluation

Forgive me, but this is a naiive comment--of course the superintendent evaluates principals; he is the last word on evaluation for all employees in the district.  He also sets the guidelines for assistant. superintendents to evaluate principals.  This is why he has nothing before his title and they have "assistant."  Their job is to enforce his standards.  This is no different than the corporate structure in which I work.  My CEO has the last word on hiring and firing all VP's, and every VP knows on which side his bread is buttered. 

I wish I were naive on this

I wish I were naive on this subject, but I am not.  Apparently you work in a corporate structure where everyone understands their roles and the evaluation process is well understood. This is often not the case at District 65. There is a history of people not being evaluated on time, especially in the central office, and there is little consistency in the process, much less clarity. It is not clear who makes the decisions about a person's employment. Historically there was one Asst. Supt. and now there are two to supervise the principals.  Although the buck should stop with the Supt., no one takes responsibility for these decisions and those making decisions seem to have little understanding of what people do in their jobs and the effect that these decisions will have on the functioning of the district as a whole. Though the focus in now on teacher evaluation, problems exist in the evaluation of all district employees including principals and it is not perceived as a fair process and the constant turnover and shifting of leadership does not help. I realize these issues also exist in corporations and other work environments, but it is your tax dollars and your children.....


Thanks for the clarification. I retract the description of your comment as being naive.  It is indeed a bigger problem than it at first appeared.  Shool board elections are around the corner--we need more board members that reflect the views of Richard Rhykus and Eileen Budde. 

Excellence in Teaching Matters More Than We Ever Suspected

While we may not agree on how to evalute good teaching, the recent research in this area shows that good teaching is far more important than many understood and poor teaching far more harmful:
Bottom line is a "great teacher is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to each year’s students, just in the extra income they will earn" over their lifetime.
Perhaps a pilot program is warranted but excellence in teaching must be required from each and every District 65 teacher and I do commend Dr. Murphy for this.  I am not a big fan always but on this issue I think he is showing true leadership.

Testing misused

No one is asserting that great teachers aren't invaluable. There debate here, as well as nationally, is how great teaching is best gauged (or even gauged at all) in a manner that's comprehensible to policymakers (who tend to only be able to understand percentages). The classroom observation part of the system is far more defensible that the part about measuring student growth.
Put simply, tests like MAP that purport to be able to measure "growth" are not designed as assessments of the quality of teaching, nor is any standardized assessment. Whether the teaching was good or bad is an inference (an unwarranted one) that policymakers seek to make from a test's results. Many factors influence student performance on a test. That's not to say that the test is not a decent measure of the skills that it's trying to evaluate, but to say that it's an accurate measure of the teacher's skills is a stretch. Again, the tests aren't designed as assessments of teaching itself. 
The other challenge with the student growth piece--and this is a problem with how PERA is outlined in the state code, not just D65's proposed enactment of it--is that there is no equity among teachers of different grade levels and subject areas insofar as which and what kinds measures are used to decide whether the students you've taught have made "progress" on your watch. One example: if I'm a middle school English teacher, that growth is gauged through commercial tests that have been designed by assessment and measuremennts experts, nationally normed, etc. But a middle school studies teacher is evaluated in part based on an assessment created by teachers in the department. (The other problem for the poor social studies teacher is that the subject barely gets taught in K-5 in any meaningful way, in part because it's not tested...)
If tyranny and bullying are forms of leadership, then I suppose Dr. Murphy is education's Winston Churchill. If not, I think a community like ours can do better.

Fairness and "good teaching"

Good teachers are invaluable, but defining what a good teacher looks like is difficult. Student growth must be a factor, but it must also be fair. We should have measures in place that reward talented educators for going into classrooms with more at-risk childen or students with disabilities. This system de-motivates risktaking and taking on more challenging schools or classrooms.
Similarly, it is not fair to the teachers. Achievement in some subjects--gym, art, drama, and library--are not traditionally measured with standardized tests. D65 had district educators create assessments, but how is an assessment created by 4-8 in-house teachers authentic and reliable compared to the ISAT, MAP, and others created by assessment professionals?
Many of the most talented teachers at my neighborhood school have left the district for positions with more support, equity, and stability. We don't want this trend to continue.

One way for D65 parents to take a stand on unnecessary testing

Here's a thought: Keep children home from school on the MAP testing days, as well as on any scheduled make-up days. Swaths of families doing so would doubtless prompt a re-examination of how the test scores are being used.  Little to no learning is happening on those days anyway, and the tests do not produce results that are useful for instructional planning at the classroom level.
Parents can almost certainly help each other out with childcare on those days.
D65 Parent 

MAP tests

Yes, MAP test results are used to provide assistance to students that need it. Either you are not a d 65 parent or just not one who actually knows what is going on at your kid's school.

"Needing" MAP

I am both a D65 parent and educational professional with advanced degrees in education. Due to the nature of my job, I am very well-versed in the benefits and limitations of MAP and other large-scale tests.
Teachers do not need MAP scores to identify students' curricular and instructional needs, or to assess students' progress and learning. The test does not provide information that could not (or should not) be gleaned from well-designed classroom formative and summative assessments that are aligned with actual curricular goals and standards.
If a teacher says he/she can't teach your child unless he/she has those test scores, first ask what he/she did before the advent of MAP, and then request another teacher--preferrably one who won't give you a hard time about keeping your child home on MAP days. :)
What the District "needs" MAP for (and why it started using the test at all) is as a measure of student growth for teacher evaluation. Without PERA and Race to the Top, they never would've started using it. In other words, they didn't start using it out of motivation to find out more about how and whether students are learning.

Danielson- A better evaluation model

   Instead of linking teacher ratings to test scores- Here is a better teacher evaluation system that is being used: The Danielson Model:

"The Framework for Teaching is a research-based set of components of instruction, aligned to the INTASC standards, and grounded in a constructivist view of learning and teaching. The complex activity of teaching is divided into 22 components (and 76 smaller elements) clustered into four domains of teaching responsibility:
1. Planning and Preparation
2. Classroom Environment
3. Instruction
4. Professional Responsibilities"

Child performance on test scores is not included as a teacher evaluation measure. However, how teachers use testing data to guide instruction is.

     Tests like MAP, Aimsweb, Dibels, and iReady provide helpful information to teachers, so please dont' keep your kids home on these days. As school districts move towards a Response to INtevention (RTI) model for identifying kids with learning disabilities, these tests allow teachers to compare kids to their peers. In the past, teachers would wait until a child struggled in school, and then the special education team would perform standardized individualized tests to determine if there was an IQ-performance discrepancy(old model of identifying LD). Using an RTI approach, teachers and special educators can give kids help immediately. The data from the aforementioned tests is one way of comparing kids across a grade in a standardized way.
     The ISAT data, by contrast, is not as helpful to teachers. THe data doesn't come back to a school until the following year, much too long to be used to guide instruction. However, this is the measure that the federal and state government uses to assess school performance and compare schools within a state, which is also helpful to administrators and communities. Under the federal No Child Left Behind law, schools need to show improvements yearly on these state tests (the ISAT being used only in Illinois). Schools are under tremendous federal pressure for kids to perform on these state tests. If the kids don't perform, school funding is withdrawn, the principal can be fired, as can the entire staff.

    Teachers agree with concerns of parents that too much teaching to the test happens. In my own special educator teacher opinion, the right plan of action would be to lobby the federal government to ammend the NCLB act, so that schools are not punished for scores. Instead, the measures should be used to identify and help struggling schools.
Then, teachers should be held accountable with a framework like the Danielson. If a teacher consistently underpeforms on a measure like this, the local school administrators should retain the right infinitely to fire them. Right now, teachers are union protected once they earn tenure. Under a recent change to state law, a school can now jump through many many hoops to fire underperforming teachers, but it is still very difficult.
Finally, we should still use tests to measure kids performance. But we need to ask: Which ones are the most valuable to guide instruction? How will the data be used? Test what is necessary, and use the data to guide instruction.

Teacher evaluation

Jen is absolutely correct.  The Danielson model is a good one and it is already an integral part of PERA, which is why Murphy's additional, seemingly punitive test-based evaluation doesn't make any sense.  Every school in the state will be evaluating teachers this year based on Danielson's framework.  District 65 needs to get in line with all of the other school systems--including ETHS, New Trier, Highland Park, and the New Trier and Highland Park feeder schools.  PERA is rigorous enough for these other districts, so why do we need to add onto it? 
In response to the earlier post that Murphy is showing "leadership"--I would advise Jersey Girl to read the law and then reread that NY Times article.  As of this year the state of IL is indeed showing leadership in the introduction and implementation of PERA.  Hardy Murphy's additional evaluation plan, however, not only doesn't make any sense, but will be in violation of the state law. 
This is an embarrassment to our community.  I sincerely hope that our school board steps up. 


D65 is using the Danielson framework, as is basically everyone in the state. State law does not name that framework per se, but it's the one everyone uses (or adapts in some way) and it's a good one.
Per PERA's eventual full-scale implemenetation, Districts are required to incorporate measures of student growth into all teacher evaluations. There is some latitude in which and what kind of measures districts use, but whether to use something is mandated.
P.S. The districts that the above commenter mentioned are not "ahead" when it comes to PERA in any way. And all Illinois districts are fumbling through this new territory. Using student test scores to evaluate teachers, including the use of value-added models, is controversial. It's a matter of perspective, certainly, but I wouldn't call Illinois a "leader" when it comes to teacher eval.

Other factors impact learning and test scores

The concern with tying teacher performance to test scores is that tests only measure so much.  
For example, let's consider a hypothetical 3rd grade special education student with behavior disorders.  This hypothetical student has difficulty attending to non-preffered material for more than 5 minutes. This student is currently working on identifying letter sounds. The student can decode consonant-vowel-consonant words with 20% accuracy. When presented with subject matter, the student demonstrates physical and verbal outbursts on average 1/5 times.
Now, let's imagine that this student is placed within a regular education room with support from a special education teacher.      By the end of the year, the student's physical outbursts have reduced to 1/20 times. The student can attend to non-prefered activites for 20 minutes.   The student can read CVC words with 95% accuracy and is beginning to decode other single syllable structures-  However, this student is still no where near the 50% average for a third grade student.  In addition, the student's performance on a third grade MAP/Aimsweb benchmark shows relatively no growth because the stuent is still not able to access third grade level reading material.
According to test scores, this teacher has failed.
 While this particular example is hypothetical, there are many students in D65 and in other school districts that meet descriptions such as this. 
The concern is that if tie performance to test scores, that you miss the other components that are crucial for school success, such as attention, language, motivation.   
Furthermore, some of the very best teachers are placed with harder to teach students.  If we start tying in test score performance to measure these staff,  the concern is that it might discourage teachers from being open to accepting challenging students in regular education classes.      One might say that the very best teachers will not be dissuaded.  However, if teachers feel that their job security is tied to test scores, we put them in a corner.

Another problem

Let's also consider students who score very very well and very very poorly on MAP (or any standardized test). The ceiling and floor is only so high. Due to that and other statistical limitations that I won't explain here, the test is not sensitive to the growth at the upper and lower ends. That's a problem for the kids but it's also a problem for teacher evaluation. A teacher could teach his/her socks off but those kids don't "move" OR they move "down" simply due to regression toward the mean (but not due to regression in learning).

Why aren't Murphy and the principals doing their job?

According to the article Murphy said," less than half the students met projected growth standards;  yet their teachers received “excellent” or “satisfactory” ratings"
If these teachers are so awful why did the administration rate them so high?   Is the administration afraid to rate their own teachers on an assessment tool-are they afraid they won't be the "nice"guy?   Instead does the administration need to use test scores and data not made for assessment of teachers to give them backbone?   What gives???  

So true

Principals need to learn how to evaluate teachers better. Murphy hires them so he should do a better job at hiring them and not hire wives, husbands and relatives and friends for those top positions. I'm sure principals were told to be there. That is how he operates. He does not give choices, he gives orders. 
And  why can't he and his admin team answer the 4 questions? Is it because the team of admins who created it are not statisticians? Nobody on his admin team is qualified to creat such an assessment. Just because you google something and read a few articles on test validity and reliability does not mean you are an expert   Don't let him fool you.  
If they coulld simply answer the questions from the union and the board, none of this would be an issue. 
It is time this sham of an administrative leader is over. Hasn't he done enough damage to Evanston over the last 10+ years? This is making some of our best teachers rethink if they will stay in Evanston. As parents and community members, we must stand up and express our dissatisfaction. 
If I had a chance to rate him on this model, he would get the lowest rating. Somebody please stop this tyranny!

Many possibilities

Sure. Because the test happens on one day at one particular moment in time. Any number of factors could influence the testaker's readiness, from the physical to the emotional to the circumstantial.
Other instances would result from a mismatch between what the test measures and what was actually taught. This wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing if the test is measuring worthless things (or very narrow/limited things...and really only certain kinds of knowledge and skills are measurable by group-administered standardized tests) while the course curriculum and teacher focused on rich and meaningful things. 
In many ways, the more concerning scenario is students scoring well but not having learned much (or not having learned anything beyond what's being test). There are several situations when this takes place: the teaching has been focused squarely on preparing for the test, a student scores well in spite of the teaching (and maybe would've scored well even at the beginning of the year), or a student scores well due to the influences of learning that happened elsewhere. The last example is the least concerning of the three, of course, because it doesn't really matter where the student learned it, just THAT he/she learned it.
However, when it comes to using measures of student "growth" (i.e., growth between scores on comparative measures) for teacher performance evaluation, all of the above scenarios are problematic...and among the many reasons why using standardized test scores of any kind to make high-stakes decisions about teachers (or about students, for that matter) is ill-informed. 
On another note...someone somewhere needs to investigate how many state and federal legislators actually send their children to public schools (versus private). It seems to me that policymakers are all too keen on making sure OTHER people's children have to take all manner of tests so that those teachers are "held accountable" whilst sheltering their own progeny from the environments that their policies engender. Interesting.

Yes. . Sometimes great

Yes. . Sometimes great teachers get the lowest students and although they are able to show growth, it's often not enough. For example , a middle school teacher must teach their curriculum but when they get a child who is several years below grade level, it's often hard to play catch up. Classes are often created with careful planning but it is  not random. Many times weaker teachers get stronger  kids who will grow no matter what. Teachers have also been known to make kids re take the MAP test if they think they did not try hard enough. It's not fair to kids or to anyone. The MAP test was not intended to be used for this. Nobody is against looking at student growth. What they are opposed to is what instrument is being used. And for other subjects that don't take MAPdont have a reliable test. They make these curriculum based assessments. They are not tested for reliability and validity. And how do you show one years growth if you are fine arts and rotate students every 7-9 weeks? I agree with the board and the teachers. Lets take time to create this the right way with real professionals that do this for a living. Creating a valid and reliable test is not easy and can't be done by a group of teachers who are not experts in this field. 
so good teaching can result in low map scores because teaching is not just about a test score. Whatever happened to using a multiple of measures like is recommended by the danielson model? Don't let Murphy fool you when he talks about fail safes. If the  evaluation tool was valid , this would be a non issue. Instead, this has caused a major divide between teachers, principals and central office. Lets get back and focus on the children as a whole, not just as a number. 

Just to clarify for those not

Just to clarify for those not so familiar with our current district's teacher appraisal system, from what I understand, wherever possible the MAP scores are the only test being used to evaluate some of our teachers (teachers of 3-5th graders for example).  That means that 50% of these teacher's evaluations are based on the growth that our students are making on the MAP.  The other 50% comes from the Danielson.  Do we really want our teachers being evaluated based of the scores of tests that our kids take for one hour twice a year?  As Paula Zelinski stated at the Board meeting on the 3rd, the makers of the MAP test don't even recommend that their tests be used to evaluate teachers.  I sure don't want my child's teacher focusing all of their attention on the MAP test scores or being penalized if my kid's score doesn't go up 8 points instead of 6.   Sure I want my child to grow academically, but does the MAP accurately measure all that my child has learned in his classroom in a given year?  I think not.  That test is a multiple choice test given on a computer and the kids can't go back and change an answer once they make their choice.  There are a lot of problems with giving the test the weight we are giving it.  It should be used as a tool to help our teachers teach.  Not as a the only vehicle to rate teachers. Also,how much money is our district spending on this test yearly?  Parents, we need to pay attention to what's going on right now. Our district is better than this.  Our kids deserve better than this.  We need teachers that are encouraged to grow and take risks so that our kids benefit from their professional expertise.  We do not need teachers quaking in their boots because their job will be on the line if our children don't perform well enough on the MAP test.

Do MAP tests measure...

Do MAP tests measure what teachers are hired to do?
Do MAP tests measure the curricular content?
Do MAP tests measure diverse learning styles?
Match the inappropriate MAP tests with the 100% subjective Danielson framework...  evanston students will be getting real good at multiple choice, narrow scope tests, and principals will get lots of christmas cards & presents, birthday cake and any other brown-nose stuff that smart teachers can think of....

Testing students and teachers

MAP scores should be used as one of the components of the teacher evaluation process, particularly at the middle school level where the school experience becomes much more impersonal as teachers have 90 students for only fragments of the school day, and students the flip side, and there is little contact between teachers and parents (5 min. conferences twice a year).
As a parent I have been very interested in my children's MAP scores and what growth is shown.  Also, these scores are used to evaluate the kids, for example as one of the determinants for acceleration in math.  If children are being evaluated based on MAP scores, teachers should be as well, and academic growth should be expected each school year.
However, this testing should be only one component, and as children are not widgets, a teacher's complete evaluation of course should allow for documented exceptional situations, such as, this student had an ill parent/divorce/other family situation this year, this student had a tough time socially this year, it was discovered that this student needed glasses, this student did no homework and did not come to after school study halls despite this list of contacts with parent/guardian, this student has an IEP and different metrics are more appropriate, this student should be evaluated for learning differences, etc.
Ideally as a result of testing and the teacher evaluation process appropriate supports can be developed for students who for a myriad of reasons are not meeting target academic growth rates.  We know so much more now about the brain and learning.  Despite the relative anonymity of our large middle schools, they need to provide those supports and more attention to the "whole" child, so that students and teachers can be successful.