Monday, February 17, 2014

Movement to back off . . .

As we learned in our recent trip to Olympia, our legislators will more than likely change the teacher evaluation law to require the use of student achievement data from state tests in individual teacher evaluations.  This is a response to the threat from the federal education department that without the change the state would lose the waiver from the unrealistic requirements of NCLB.  I shared the threat in multiple posts like this one from August 2013 and haven't changed my mind that this is not what we should do and will not achieve the claims made by policy makers.  If it was the right thing to do why was it not part of the original legislation and why did it take this threat for the legislators to respond as they are now?

So, as we embark on this new requirement forced by the federal department, what can we learn from other states that have been using this data over time?  In this New York Times piece shared with me by Amy Adams we see that legislators from both state houses have called for changes to their state law that pull back from the use of their state test results in teacher evaluations.  Currently these evaluations account for 20% of a teacher's evaluation.

In synchronized statements, Democratic leaders of the State Assembly joined Republicans in the State Senate to propose that the tests, which are aligned with the new curriculum standards known as the Common Core, be excluded, for now, from the state’s new teacher evaluation system, which Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law in 2012.

Without having the necessary aligned curriculum and opportunity for students to acquire the knowledge and skills in the Common Core aligned assessments before the 2015 implementation, could this be the response we will see in our state?  Other than the threat, what has changed that makes this change necessary?  More importantly, will it lead to increased student achievement?  Over time these questions will be answered and we will work with our teachers to make the most of whatever changes come out of this session.  It would be nice to go into year two of the new evaluation model without a significant change in parameters, but that will not likely be our reality.  We will maintain our focus on teacher growth that will influence student achievement over time.

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