Thursday, April 24, 2014

Another first . . .

Well, it became official today - Washington became the first state to lose the ESEA flexibility waiver.  As I have shared in many posts this was not unexpected, but it doesn't make the distinction feel any better.  You can read about it in many places.  I first saw it on the Tacoma News Tribune site, then in an announcement from OSPI that included Secretary Duncan's letter.  Below is the paragraph from the Secretary informing Superintendent Dorn of the waiver loss that was caused by not putting into legislation the requirement to use state assessment data in teacher evaluations.

This means going back to the accountability requirements of NCLB as measured by AYP.   The accountability target  is for EVERY student in the state to be at standard on all state administered assessments by this year, a standard that will not be met I believe by any school district.  Since we and many districts are now piloting the new Smarter Balanced assessments and will not be getting any results from the pilot I wonder how we will be measured.  In any case we, like all across the state, will be sending letters home informing parents that we did not meet AYP goals and providing them with the required options.  We will also need to set aside 20% of our Title 1 revenue for transportation and/or private tutoring for next year.

Given all that we are doing to change practice and support teacher growth that results in increased student achievement this is a step backward driven by federal decisions on what is best for our schools.  I struggle with this decision and with what we will now face as captured in this Comment by Secretary Dorn in the Tribune article.

Dorn, the state superintendent of public instruction, said in a statement Thursday that he agrees with Duncan that "student progress should be one of multiple elements in a teacher's evaluation." He said lobbying by the state teachers union was to blame for Washington lawmakers' failure to act, and now the state's loss of the federal waiver.

"Unfortunately the teacher’s union felt it was more important to protect their members than agree to that change and pressured the Legislature not to act," Dorn said in his statement.

TPEP was a collaborative effort between multiple agencies including WEA and OSPI to design an evaluation system  focused on growth over time to influence practice and student achievement.  The statement above captures the  loss of collaboration that went into the development of this model and describes an adversarial current reality that emerged in the last legislative session.  We owe the creation of these battle lines to a decision made at the federal level that once again tells us their one size fits all prescription for school reform has greater potential to increase achievement than anything that we might come up with at the state and local level.


Scott Mitchell said...

Well I think this quote by Rep. Chris Reykdahl sums up my thoughts pretty well. Thank you Kristin Edlund for sharing this on Facebook.

"My message to President Obama and Secretary Duncan is that Washington State is committed to education reform that is collaborative, bipartisan, and focused on student success and teacher growth. Our legislative decision to reject the federal government’s demands was done with substantial deliberation and a deep respect for state and local control. . . .
I strongly encourage federal officials to use this moment in history to model Washington State’s success instead of using us as an example of federal government power and leverage. I challenge the federal government to turn a corner on education reform, fix the deeply-flawed and failed No Child Left Behind Act, and get back to empowering the states instead of coercing them. . . . " ~ Rep. Reykdahl

I would also follow this up with what WEA President Kim Mead had to say about Washington schools and the praise from both Duncan and Dorn about how great our schools are.

"Our teachers, students and public schools in Washington are strong, as recognized by Duncan and Dorn:
• In November, Duncan praised Washington students for their performance and progress on national tests, saying he was "extraordinarily proud" of our students' "remarkable progress" and their "improvement in every category."
• Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn said, "Our students' high performance … caught the attention of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. He called me, personally, to congratulate our hardworking teachers and principals on a job well done," and, "We also beat the national average in SAT scores. And ACT scores. We must celebrate this success and acknowledge the good work being done in our schools."
• On April 16, Dorn recognized more than 410 schools for their academic success as determined by the ESEA waiver Duncan just rescinded. "These awards represent some of the best," Dorn said. "It's an honor to recognize them and celebrate their success."
• Washington's most needy schools (recipients of federal School Improvement Grants, or SIG) collectively outperformed the 1,400 SIG schools across the nation. " -Kim Mead, WEA President

Jennifer Dunham said...

Secretary Dorn should be ashamed of his comments. Teachers should not be ashamed of not caving to an obviously flawed idea. You cannot really expect us to be okay with part of our evaluation being based on a test that hasn't been vetted and is based on standards that are being implemented poorly (we should be easing in, not dropping it in without the proper scaffolding). Teachers are not at fault for standing up to the bullying of the federal government and its flawed legislation. We would never expect our students to be okay with completely flawed ideas, why should we as adults accept a flawed idea? Instead of trying to lay blame on the teachers for not giving into what MANY people and organizations know is wrong, he should be working on educating everyone about how obviously flawed the legislation is. If you want to see the flaws I am talking about, read Scott's post above. Secretary Duncan needs to stop trying to prove something and actually think logically about what he is doing. I am extremely disappointed in both of these Secretaries who are supposed to be working to improve the education system and are instead trying to prove a point.

John said...

I have commented previously about Secretary Duncan's ineptitude, so I will not rehash the same sentiments.

In regards to Secretary Dorn's obtuse comments, I will say that his words are over-simplified, skape-goatish, and show how very unqualified he is to be holding the post he currently holds. He should be standing up and boasting about the amazing achievements this state and WEA have made together, and then loudly touting how proud he is of the teachers and schools in the state of Washington. Instead, he chooses to misplace blame on the educators who have worked so hard, to achieve so much, with so little. His comments are cowardly and give credence to the irresponsible and unfounded practices of the Federal Department of Education.

Scott Mitchell said...

I think it is also fair to say that it would be great to have some new leadership at OSPI...Mike I think you may have some time on your hands in the near future.


John said...

I would work on that campaign Mr. Mitchell.