She Fought Hawaii's New Way Of Evaluating Teachers -- And Won

When the Hawaii Department of Education released the details of its new teacher evaluation system three years ago, veteran teacher Mireille Ellsworth made a radical decision: She would simply refuse to do part of it.

Like many teachers in the state, Ellsworth felt that linking teacher pay — even partially — to student test scores was unfair. But there were other portions of the complex and multi-tiered system that she objected to as well, including the use of Student Learning Objectives as a measure of teacher success.

“I could tell it was something that could be easily manipulated by any teacher,” Ellsworth said. “Essentially it would be a dog and pony show.”

Mireille Ellsworth
Mireille Ellsworth, who has been a teacher in Guam and Hawaii for 18 years, is pushing back against the DOE’s teacher evaluation system.
This year — the first that the state’s Educator Effectiveness System impacts teacher pay — Ellsworth received a subpar rating because of her incomplete evaluation. She appealed the rating. And she won.

The DOE says Ellsworth won her appeal because of a procedural error in how her school handled the review, not because of her detailed objections to the system itself. But Ellsworth is still hoping her experience makes a larger statement to teachers.

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