Monday, March 3, 2014

Anyone's guess at this time . . .

Last week I shared the compromise bill that Governor Inslee and Superintendent Dorn are promoting to ensure that the state is removed from "high risk" status and is granted a continuing waiver from NCLB sanctions.  The Governor shared his reasoning in this press release that indicated a comfort level that the compromise bill will meet Secretary Duncan's standard for continuing the waiver.

“This funding is crucial in our efforts to support struggling students, and I think everyone in Olympia agrees we must do everything we can to preserve it,” said Inslee. “I assured Secretary Duncan that if he grants us this waiver, we will ultimately be able to deliver a stronger, more effective evaluation system that better serves our students and educators. He indicated that, given our demonstrable progress on a range of reforms, this is a positive step could provide a satisfactory path forward. ”

In this Education Week Politics K-12 post questions are raised about the certainty of the bill meeting the standard for waiver continuation.  Because the bill postpones implementation of mandating state test scores in teacher evaluations until the 2017-18 school year there are some raising questions.

Here's the thing, though: Waiver states were initially supposed to fully implement their teacher evaluation systems—meaning gauge teachers performance on use them for personnel decisions—by the 2015-16 school year. The Obama administration has allowed states to apply for an extension, to the 2016-17 school year. The flexibility offered by the department so far has only applied to whether the evaluations are used for personnel decisions—not to whether the state gauges teacher performance using local or state tests, which is what Washington would be asking for under Inslee's draft proposal.

And note that, under the draft plan, by the time the schools in Washington state have to start using tests for accountability purposes, the Obama administration will be out of office.

So, even if it passes in Olympia it may still face a rocky road in Washington D.C.  Want to make a guess as to what will happen?  It has become far too political for me to know what will happen, but I lean toward the bill passing and a waiver extension.  I would be surprised if the Governor would float the plan in the legislature without prior approval of the Secretary even though I was very surprised that the original bill did not make it through the Senate.

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