Teacher Effectiveness Reccomendations to the Governor and Legislature
Hope springs eternal. Here’s what we sent out last week.
As California’s leading organization that works to close opportunity and achievement gaps, we are focused on leveraging this session’s teacher quality conversations in a way that brings our state closer to the promise of a great education for all of California’s school children.
To reach this goal, we believe four (4) critical steps must be taken. The first step is a short-term solution. The state law governing the layoff process must be revised to allow districts to deviate from seniority-based mechanisms in order to foster staff and instructional stability—particularly in high need, high poverty schools. Second, school districts must have the flexibility to assess the effectiveness of each teacher at raising student achievement through rigorous uniform evaluations that are based on multiple measures, including student performance growth data. Third, the evaluations must happen regularly so that the results of the evaluation are meaningful and valuable to both the teacher and the administrator. Fourth, districts must be provided the flexibility to use the evaluation data to increase student access to great teachers and leaders. State-mandated barriers that prevent school district leaders from assigning or attracting highly-effective teachers and leaders to high need schools must be removed. We submit the following recommendations to achieve these goals.
First, the state law governing the layoff process must be revised to strengthen the protections for high need, high poverty schools. School districts must be allowed to deviate from seniority-based layoffs when a reduction in force would result in a disproportionate impact on a school, relative to the impact on other schools in the district. This flexibility must also be afforded when it would impair the ability of a school to implement an existing school improvement plan or targeted instructional program. Without these protections in place, schools serving high need students risk losing teachers who are critical to school stability and school improvement efforts.
Second, districts must have evaluation systems in place to determine teacher and principal effectiveness. School districts must be required to develop and implement a uniform teacher and principal evaluation system to assess a teacher’s effectiveness at raising student achievement. This system must use multiple approaches to measuring effectiveness with at least 30 percent, though preferably a majority, of the evaluation based on student performance data. Education Code should also be revised so that the ability to use student performance data to assess teacher effectiveness may not be negotiated out locally through the collective bargaining process, as is currently the case. Lastly, Education Code Section 44662 (The Stull Act) should be revised to require a district’s governing board to evaluate and assess certificated employee performance on an annual basis using the progress of pupils toward the standards as measured by state adopted criterion referenced assessments—removing the “if applicable” clause.
Third, the results of teacher and principal evaluations must be meaningful. State law should require school districts to administer evaluations for certificated staff annually. Evaluations should provide ratings that meaningfully differentiate among teacher effectiveness using at least four categories. It should also be clear in state law that if a district’s evaluation system found a teacher or certificated staff member to be ineffective, that individual cannot receive a satisfactory rating and cannot remain in the system after two unsatisfactory evaluations. And critically, Education Code should require school districts to provide teachers and principals with information on the academic growth of their own students compared with other students in the same grade and subject. This way, information on teacher effectiveness would not simply be used for accountability purposes but also to inform classroom instruction.
Fourth, school districts must have the flexibility to use the results of these evaluations to make staffing decisions with instructional effectiveness as the focus. School districts must have the flexibility to assign, reassign, layoff and transfer teachers and administrators based on effectiveness (as measured by their evaluations) and subject matter needs without regard to years of service. And at this critical time when reductions in force are happening across the state , it is more important than ever to allow school districts to deviate from terminating a certificated employee in order of seniority on the basis of their effectiveness (as measured by their evaluations). Districts should be allowed to retain employees with superior evaluations over those with inferior evaluations.
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