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Update on Evaluations

posted Mar 5, 2012, 8:00 AM by Joseph Vellegas
Last night (Wednesday 2/29/12), E2SSB 5895, the latest legislative version of the Teacher/Principal Evaluation Project (TPEP), passed the House on a bipartisan vote.  Several Democratic and Republican legislators voted against the bill.  It now makes its way to the Governor’s desk for approval.
As background, you will recall WEA fully supported a four-tiered evaluation system in 2010 that was proposed and passed.  Since then, WEA members and staff at all levels of the organization have worked tirelessly to develop pilots which support a meaningful and authentic  evaluation system to benefit our students and our members. 
Earlier this legislative session when  pieces of a proposed package of very bad bills, including charters and an evaluation system based on student test scores and tied to teacher placement and assignment, threatened to re-emerge through a parliamentary maneuver, key lawmakers went behind closed doors to develop a bi-partisan compromise.  WEA was not included in these conversations, nor were any professional educators.  What emerged was E2SSB 5895.
This new piece of legislation potentially compromises aspects of the great work which has been underway for the past two years, but the neo-reform ideologue did not get their way on much of the bill. Here are a number of the key provisions contained in E2SSB 5895:

·    Inclusion of local and state test scores is not required, although the legislation does require student growth data to be connected to at least three criteria.  Student assessments could be part of this, as well as a variety of other authentic multiple measures.  This can be connected to good instructional practice as determined at the local level through the bargaining process;

·         Full bargaining rights, and due process, are maintained as a result of the politically courageous efforts of a number of the policy makers involved with this legislation; 

·       Training is mandated for all principals before they can evaluate one teacher in the new system;

·       Training is mandated for teachers also.  Some funding is provided for the training;

·        A three-year transitional period to begin in the 2013-14 school year.  This means a new system will not start all at once. 

Proponents of this new legislation did win one significant argument: Only three instructional frame works will be allowed. 
In agreeing to this piece of the legislation, legislators failed to understand how inter-rater reliability across the state can be – and is – actually achieved, regardless of which framework is chosen.  
For teachers, this means while most pilots and locals already working with the new system will not have to refocus their work, some will – and some pilots will decide to discontinue two years of work, opting out because the new legislation does allow for a waiver to the three instructional models.
Additionally, and beginning with the 2015-16 school year, evaluation results must be used as one factor in making human resource decisions such as transfers and reassignments.  No weight has been assigned to this factor -- and it is subject to the local bargaining process.  TPEP pilots have been asked to determine if there are any best practices or not, and to report those findings to the Legislature by December 1, 2013.   This may provide us with an opportunity next session to change this provision
WEA will continue giving its full support to the TPEP pilots, and to all locals, as they prepare to engage in an evaluation system with a framework of professional development for all teachers, regardless of where they are in their chosen profession.
 And it is our hope legislators will listen to both the voices of those on the frontline of public education – educators – and their own legislative colleagues in allowing this evaluation system to work without further – or needless – meddling.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions or concerns. 
Best wishes,
Mary Lindquist, President