The LEV/PTA/SFC backed teacher evaluation bill was shoved through the Senate last week without more than a few hours for anyone to review and evaluate it and yet it would have a tremendous impact on our students.

From the Washington Education Association regarding Bill 5895:

(The bold is mine)

The Senate’s new teacher evaluation bill (SB 5895) was released publicly just four hours before the deadline for legislation to pass the Senate. WEA’s education policy experts are reviewing the legislation and will provide a more in-depth analysis, but based on a cursory review of the bill:

We have concerns with some aspects of the bill. A lot rests with how this legislation is implemented at the local and state levels. This new legislation must not derail, short-circuit or otherwise interfere with the evaluation pilot work that is already underway, and educators must be allowed the flexibility to meet the unique needs of students in their local schools.

The larger concern: Teachers, the professionals who are directly affected by this legislation, were not at the table where the bill was negotiated. We didn’t know what was in the bill until a few hours before it passed. For any education reform to work, the voice of teachers needs to be heard and respected. We expect to work with the House to improve on the bill.

Additionally, this bill ignores the real crisis facing our K-12 public schools — the Legislature’s failure to amply fund K-12 schools as mandated by the state Constitution. As the state Supreme Court ruled in January, the Washington Legislature is failing to fulfill its paramount duty to our children. Simply changing education policies isn’t enough to ensure all children have the opportunity to receive a great education. It is time for the same legislators who passed this bill to comply with the state Constitution and fund our public schools.

So basically no one had a chance to look at the bill and yet the PTA and LEV are calling it a triumph…over what?…the democratic process?

And now from one of our PAA parents who has been following this bill:

This was originally the bill supported by the governor and the union, but a striker amendment was adopted yesterday with significant changes which were approved through a closed-door deal.

Where is it?

The bill has been passed by the senate and is currently in the House Education Committee

 What is the next step?

SB5895 has been scheduled for a public hearing in the House Education Committee on 2/16/2012. After that it will be heard in executive session on Friday (2/17) at 1:30.

How much will it cost?

About 5.8 million for the first few years

What are the biggest concerns?

The most significant change that I see from the original 5895 is that now student growth data “must” be used. (Instead of just using if available and relevant) I don’t know how this will be applied to teachers who don’t teach reading, math, and science subjects with readily applicable standardized tests. If I were an art teacher I would be really worried about how this would apply to me. I’d also hate to see the state or districts creating more and more tests in more and more subjects just to satisfy this legislation.

What can we do about it?

Write and call your representatives and members of the house education committee and ask:

How do you expect this will apply to teachers without standardized tests in their subject matter?

Can we please get this clarified through an amendment?

Explain your concerns about the one size fits all nature of requiring student growth data for *all* teacher evaluations.

And from another PAA parent, more questions regarding the bill  that need to be posed to our legislators:

Do you understand how measures of student growth will be developed for teachers of all subjects? In other words, who, and at what expense, will develop measures of student growth for Auto Tech, Theory of Knowledge, Family and Consumer Science, IB Business, and so on? For subjects for which standardized district-based or state-based assessments don’t exist, will teachers then have the latitude to develop classroom-based assessments that will figure into their own evaluations? If so, what incentive would anyone have for (1) teaching in a district-based or state-based tested subject, (2) taking on classes of historically low-growth students, (3) teaching, say, three preps instead of one or two, (4) taking on a new course, or (5) working an especially difficult schedule (teaching a 7th or 0 period, working an 1.2 FTE contract, and so on)?

In the absence of funds to develop new measures of student growth, won’t most high school assessments be classroom-based? In that case, why would anyone want to teach language arts or math?

Parents ask the darndest things don’t they? At least PAA parents do. Why is the PTA not asking these same questions?

And from another PAA parent:

As I understand the evaluation frameworks from TPEP (the pilot) don’t use VAM (Value Added Measures eg: student test scores), but use other student growth measures. This is a minor technicality though since non-VAM growth data is no better than VAM.

After watching the working session on Monday, I came away with two main impressions:

1. It is, at best, way to premature to mandate the use of student growth data in teacher evaluations. TPEP provides no data that shows this is beneficial and we know from prior research that it’s not.

2. That said, I was impressed with the TPEP project. It seems like a collaborative effort with educators to improve teacher evaluation.

And from another PAA parent:

One of the Highline schools has a transient rate of 80%. In other words, only 20 out of 100 start and then end the year at that one school. These value added measurers would be a mess in that situation. I don’t know of any teacher that would want to teach at that school, and have student evaluations on top of that. I’m not sure the supporters that come from stable schools understand this issue either.

And this is what happens when you’re too hasty in pushing legislation through that is of no value but costly in terms of money and the time spent on testing and the evaluation of those tests as well as the psychic energy expended by students, teachers and school staff. See States Try to Fix Quirks in Teacher Evaluations

Please contact the following legislators and ask them a few questions about this bill before it becomes law and then too difficult to fix:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,