Thursday, August 15, 2013

Provisional leads to "at risk" . . .

In this July 2012 post I shared my concern that the state's stance on using student assessment data in teacher evaluation might not meet the federal education department's expectations.  At the time, it appeared I was wrong as we were granted provisional status.  I learned today in this Huff Post that we are one of three states that have been put on notice that our waiver is on high risk status.

On Wednesday, Deb Delisle, the U.S. Secretary of Education's assistant, wrote letters to the three states saying their waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act was on "high-risk status," according to correspondence provided to The Huffington Post. Their waivers have been approved for the new school year, but might not get renewed in 2014-2015, it said.

I have not seen anything yet in the local media or any official response from OSPI.  The issue appears to be what I was concerned with, giving local bargaining units control over how student achievement will influence teacher evaluations.

Washington got in trouble for changing its teacher evaluation law. On a call with reporters, a federal education department official said that Washington is not meeting the federal government's definition of measuring student performance for teacher evaluations.

"In accordance with state law, a local educational agency (LEA) has discretion over whether or not to include data from statewide assessments in determining a teacher’s student growth rating," Delisle wrote. Washington allows student growth to be measured by teams across classrooms -- the official said the state needs to prove that the method doesn't mask the performance of individual teachers.

This is a big issue as long as we are under the old NCLB guidelines of ESEA.  If we were to lose the waiver we would once again be required to have all students meet standard by 2014, a goal that few systems, if any, will meet.  We will want to follow this closely as it could have a profound influence on our work as we collaboratively identify how to use this data in the evaluation process. The real risk lies in how OSPI and our legislators will respond to this notice.


John said...
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John said...

Being that there is no scientific evidence to support standardized testing affecting student growth, I fail to understand what they mean by "high risk status". Are we at a high risk of failing our students? A high risk of implementing a failing teacher evaluation model? Or are we at a high risk of failing to use standardized testing as the be-all, end all of improving student growth? The chastising tone from the federal government continues to show its lack of leadership. The fact is, they cannot tell us what the "high risk" is, because they themselves do not know. I am optimistic that the work we have done as a district the last two years will help teachers grow and use data that is applicable to their students. Threatening to take funds away will never help education. If the department of education would like to help, they should a) do some real, science-based research to find the most effective examples of student growth measures; b) give us the resources to implement these measures, and then c) let us do the work we as professionals know how to do.