Despite laws preventing the use of test scores in teacher evaluations, California, New York and Wisconsin are trying to argue that they qualify for Race to the Top funding, reports Ed Week’s Stephen Sawchuck. He summarizes:
New York: “OK, our law says you can’t use test data in teacher-tenure decisions, but teachers have to demonstrate how they’ll use data to get tenure. Besides, the law only refers to tenure, not all those other teacher things.”
California: “OK, just because there’s a state prohibition on the use of this data doesn’t mean local districts can’t choose to include it on their own. Like, six whole districts already do!”
Wisconsin: “OK, we can’t use our NCLB tests for these teacher-related purposes, but we have all kinds of other tests we could use!”
California Superintendent Jack O’Connell visited Long Beach Unified, known as a data-driven district. The LA Times reports:
Seven years ago, the district developed a sophisticated centralized data system that allows it to track individual student achievement, attendance and discipline over time. The system also lets the district see how students are faring collectively in a particular classroom or school, and how subsets such as English learners or special education students are performing. District officials can then use the information for staffing decisions, such as where to send specialists.
Tom Malkus, principal of Lee Elementary School, said he and other school leaders use the data to spot struggling teachers and offer coaching, professional development and other support.
If that fails, (Superintendent Christopher) Steinhauser said, the district has “courageous conversations” with teachers that can result in their leaving the profession.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to terminate the data firewall. The unions should agree to change the law, editorializes the San Jose Mercury News.
Without linking student data to teachers, lawmakers will shoot in the dark when they try, for example, to make sure that effective teachers are working in low-performing schools.
Swift & Change Able looks at New York state’s data firewall, which reads: “The teacher shall not be granted or denied tenure based on student performance data.”
Here’s how it would have been written if what NY state officials and the unions are saying was their real intent really was their intent (the simple adding of one word):
“the teacher shall not be granted or denied tenure based solely on student performance data.”
or, more elegantly and affirmatively:
“teacher tenure shall be granted based on student performance data and other relevant factors”
. . . The one upside of this debate: we now know what is meant by “creative problem solving” when union officials and their flacks talk about “21st Century Skills.”
On Flypaper, Mike Petrilli looks at the politics of the decision to require states to use achievement data to evaluate teachers. It’s not just a poke in the eye for the teachers’ unions, he writes. It’s a poke at California. And it couldn’t have happened without the OK of Rep. George Miller, a liberal California Democrat who chairs the House Education and Labor committee. Petrilli thinks it’s Miller’s revenge on the NEA, which made “a stink about merit pay when Miller’s NCLB reauthorization bill was floated back in 2007.”