The Senate Appropriations Committee has given Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes three days to figure out how to pay for and, if possible, mollify critics of his bill to redesign teacher evaluations.

On Thursday, the committee, chaired by Democratic Sen. Christine Kehoe of San Diego, will decide whether AB 5 moves forward with an as-yet imprecise price tag. Even critics who say the bill doesn’t go far enough – and they were out in force at the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing Monday ­– acknowledge that the bill would bring clarity and add substance to the vague, largely irrelevant current law known as the Stull Act. But in a year in which Gov. Jerry Brown has vowed to veto legislation costing more money, AB 5 would establish an expensive new state mandate by imposing substantial additional requirements on school districts.

Fuentes, a Democrat from the San Fernando Valley, indicated Monday that he still needed to figure out how to account for an additional $20 million to make the bill cost-neutral. But that number assumes that the approximately $40 million that the state reimburses districts now for aspects of the Stull Act and contract negotiations with teachers could be applied to the AB 5 mandate. That’s probably overstated. The $40 million to $80 million cost of AB 5 that Fuentes cited is his own ballpark estimate. A fiscal analysis of the bill by Appropriations staff didn’t give a precise figure, but did cite areas that would result in “substantial new reimbursable costs”:

  • More frequent evaluations: Instead of every five years under the Stull Act, experienced teachers with previously good reviews would be evaluated every three years. Other teachers with tenure would be evaluated every other year; probationary teachers would be reviewed yearly – as under the current law.
  • Multiple observations of teachers along with meetings before and after each observation. The Stull Act requires only one observation.
  • Evaluator training. “A potentially substantial mandate” to train evaluators to ensure their standards for measuring performance are uniform.
  • Collective bargaining. Each district would have to negotiate the criteria and procedures for the evaluations with the local teachers union, an expansion of the districts’ current obligation.

Not mentioned would be the costs for professional development for teachers who received an unsatisfactory review, or extra training for teachers rated satisfactory who need to improve certain skills, reflecting the bill’s goal of “continuous improvement for teachers,” Fuentes said.

Districts would argue these would be reimbursable costs. The commission on state mandates would have to determine how much, if any.

Would passage make NCLB waiver likely?

Fuentes told the committee that AB 5 would “put California in a stronger position” to qualify for a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law, as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is known. A waiver would potentially free up $354 million in Title I money that districts could use to pay for AB 5’s mandates and teacher professional development. But Arun Ramanathan, executive director of the Oakland-based education nonprofit Education Trust-West and an evaluator of other states’ waiver applications this year for the federal Department of Education, dismissed that claim. “AB 5, as written, is so far from qualifying for a waiver that to say otherwise is inaccurate,” he said.

The bill lacks key accountability measures that the feds are demanding, including the use of objective data, such as standardized test scores, to measure a teacher’s impact on student academic growth, and a multi-tier rating system, beyond the current satisfactory/unsatisfactory categories, to recognize levels of excellence in teaching and degrees of needed improvement.

Several advocacy groups calling for more rigorous reforms – Education Trust-West, Public Advocates, and EdVoice – agree on these points.

StudentsFirst, a nonprofit formed by former Washington, D.C., schools superintendent Michelle Rhee, which turned out several dozen parents and teachers to the hearing, went further and called explicitly for tying employment decisions to teacher evaluations.

Bhavini Bhakta, a StudentsFirst member and teacher from Arcadia, said that the state needs an evaluation system to "ensure that great teachers remain and aren't the first out the door due to seniority."

Bhavini Bhakta, a StudentsFirst member and teacher from Arcadia, said that the state needs an evaluation system to “ensure that great teachers remain and aren’t the first out the door due to seniority.”

Bhavini Bhakta, a nine-year teacher from Arcadia who said she had been given layoff notices eight straight years, even though her students’ test scores were above average, testified, “We must implement a system that links teacher staffing decisions to student performance. It would be fair, objective, and ensure that staffing decisions are made in the best interests of students.”

No one gave unqualified support for the bill. But representatives of some of Sacramento’s heavy hitters  – California Teachers Association, Association of California School Administrators and California School Boards Association – said they would support the bill if several unspecified amendments were added. In its current form, AB 5 would not take effect until the state repays districts $9.2 billion for spending cuts and unpaid cost increases spelled out in Proposition 98. But that repayment could take upward of seven years, which is why Fuentes is looking for ways to implement the new system sooner at minimum expense.

 

 


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  1. Ed 4 years ago4 years ago

    Bea: teachers can be included in developing a policy without having veto power over the final product. It would work in the same manner that governing boards adopt a policy regarding the evaluation of the district superintendent - they talk about it and the governing board decides, no veto power. Yes Bea, the collectivist voice drowns out the individual initiative and commitment to excellence; that is very essence of what the union must do … Read More

    Bea: teachers can be included in developing a policy without having veto power over the final product. It would work in the same manner that governing boards adopt a policy regarding the evaluation of the district superintendent – they talk about it and the governing board decides, no veto power.

    Yes Bea, the collectivist voice drowns out the individual initiative and commitment to excellence; that is very essence of what the union must do to protect all of its members. I know, I was a dues paying member myself and witnessed it first hand.

    Navigio: I always find in amazing that the best answer to address the inadequacies in the traditional system is to attack charter schools, the one viable choice that may be exercised by parents who can’t afford to pay private school tuition.

    Charter schools are schools of choice, they do not enjoy the benefit of the compulsory education statute coupled with government assigned enrollment. Charter schools participate in testing and report their results. If they are not meeting the academic, or other needs, of the students attending, parents may enroll their child in their local traditional school – if enough parents make that decision the charter school will close.

    Replies

    • navigio 4 years ago4 years ago

      Ed. My comment about charters was not intended to be 'the solution' to any of education's perceived problems. It was only to find out whether your words were in fact genuine. If the methods you are touting on behalf of yourself and SF truly will make things better, then they should be applied to charter schools as well. Simple. Remember, there are children in those schools too. And they too are 'public'. That said, in many … Read More

      Ed. My comment about charters was not intended to be ‘the solution’ to any of education’s perceived problems. It was only to find out whether your words were in fact genuine. If the methods you are touting on behalf of yourself and SF truly will make things better, then they should be applied to charter schools as well. Simple. Remember, there are children in those schools too. And they too are ‘public’.

      That said, in many places charter schools are actually making things worse (using the metrics you want to measure traditional public schools and teachers with). And from a policy standpoint, school choice is in fact one of the problems today, imho. It provides an additional mechanism for self-selection/segregation. It exacerbates lack of community involvement and destroys the concept of public neighborhood school. The metrics by which parents who choose these schools often have little to do with test scores (ironically). Even though I wasnt attacking charter schools for that purpose in my previous comment (though I do in others), It is clearly acceptable to ‘attack’ reforms that make things worse rather than better. How would that not be appropriate?

      And worst of all, if you happen to be a child with a parent of means (time or resource wise), then you may be able to take advantage of these situations to ‘better’ your educational environment (though what ‘better’ means is clearly dubious), but this does nothing but make the educational environment worse for everyone else. Students first should mean ALL students first, not just some students first.

      At the risk of repeating myself, JD said it best: “What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must the community want for all of its children. Any other ideal for our schools is narrow and unlovely; acted upon it destroys our democracy.” -John Dewey

    • navigio 4 years ago4 years ago

      Hi Ed. Here is a non-charter school related reason I tend to question the motives of SF: -- Its been a while since Students First came into being. I followed them closely when they started in the hope that there really would be a new movement whose goal it was to improve public education and counter the impact of anti-tax or anti-public education ideologues and state legislatures, but the group turned out to be just another body … Read More

      Hi Ed. Here is a non-charter school related reason I tend to question the motives of SF:

      Its been a while since Students First came into being. I followed them closely when they started in the hope that there really would be a new movement whose goal it was to improve public education and counter the impact of anti-tax or anti-public education ideologues and state legislatures, but the group turned out to be just another body jumping on the dogpile of reform.

      One of SF’s goals is to impact state laws related to tenure, seniority (unions) and teacher evaluations. Specific to the latter, the group has been calling for the use of standardized test scores in the teacher evaluation process and in the process has ignored any concerns that standardized test scores might not actually measure the quality of teacher input.

      One of its first ‘achievements’ was working with Florida’s Governor and legislature to completely change the nature of teacher workforce hiring and firing. The result of this work was the now infamous SB 736.

      http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2011/0736

      That bill did a number of things, including essentially removing tenure by requiring maximum 1 year teaching contracts, and firing of teachers who rate unsatisfactory for 2 years in a row. But what it also did was require that standardized test results be used as a basis for these evaluations of teachers and administrators. It required that ‘at least 50 percent’ [my emphasis] of the evaluation be based on student test scores (the percentage could be reduced if not more than 3 years of data is available, or the school had an exemption under RTTT, and for administrators, but there are still requirements that performance factors are ‘the single greatest component of an employee’s evaluation’).

      The Florida Dept of Education is also supposed to post information about the status of teacher evaluations on a website, broken down by district and school.

      NB: The bill allows the test score calculations to take into account disability status, English learner status or attendance record, but NOT their socioeconomic status. This last point is quite important, imho, because it essentially means that there will be a disincentive for teachers (and administrators) who would like to remain teachers to teach in schools with low parent involvement, high poverty, high single-family incidence, low parent education level; all the things that correlate to lower test scores in spite of quality teachers.

      While these things don’t have to be a barrier, statistically speaking they are. Especially in our current environment of perennial budget cuts, rising poverty and unequal access to kids and families in need. In the past, a teacher could choose to work in the toughest schools, knowing that even if they didn’t always get the results on some standardized test, at least they knew they were helping kids. Now, such a teacher risks career suicide, regardless of how good they are. There is already a tendency for teachers to move, over time, toward the easier-to-teach-in environments. This law will essentially force teachers to make a choice between a career as a teacher and teaching in poverty schools. That’s the worst kind of incentive and one that will disproportionately hurt kids in need.

      Since this law requires the state board of education to post information about these evaluations on their website starting this July, I went and looked for any such indication. I did not find anything that appeared to be satisfying that requirement (not surprising given that much of the bill related to evaluations does not kick in until 2014-15, though the tenure aspects were already scheduled to have kicked in–if lawsuits haven’t derailed that–and gathering student performance data should already have been started), but I did find a listing of ‘grades’ given to districts and schools by the state board. In fact, the district grades were also presented in a nice, map-based, graphical manner:

      http://tinyurl.com/8tl4g6l

      After looking at that map for a little while, it made me wonder about something, so I went to the poverty map for Florida (Source: http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/county-level-data-sets/poverty.aspx Darker red = higher concentrations of poverty, though the darkest red corresponds to any poverty rate between 16.9% and 100%. ):

      http://tinyurl.com/8quctu2

      Pretty interesting correlation, and that’s not even child poverty (child poverty rates average 7.5 percentage points higher for all counties, with the maximum difference being almost 15%–Putnam with a 40% child poverty rate vs 25.6% overall. 14 of the 68 counties had child poverty rates 10 percentage points or more above the overall poverty rate).

      So if you believe that teachers are the cause of lower performance in higher poverty areas, then you’ll probably be happy about SB 736; and maybe even like Students First’s efforts.

      But if you believe that teachers have limited control in countering the effects poverty has on kids then you will realize that this bill will work to disincentivize good teachers from teaching in higher poverty schools. And even if they wanted to, if those scores continue along this line for 2 years, those teachers (and administrators) will be fired. Ironically, the law exempts substitutes from these evaluations. Perhaps a perverse incentive to replace teachers in poverty schools with long-term subs?

      This bill seems like the furthest thing from ‘students first’ I can think of. And this was one of their first ‘achievements’. Just one reason I am hesitant to believe that Students First truly is students first. At least not all students.

  2. el 4 years ago4 years ago

    A union is just an organization of teachers where the teachers choose a set of representatives to speak for them and discuss and bargain on their behalf. Union leaders are the teachers' leaders, chosen by the teachers. If the teachers are not satisfied with their leadership, they have both the option and the responsibility to vote them out and select new leaders. The same is true of a school board: a school board is a democratically … Read More

    A union is just an organization of teachers where the teachers choose a set of representatives to speak for them and discuss and bargain on their behalf. Union leaders are the teachers’ leaders, chosen by the teachers. If the teachers are not satisfied with their leadership, they have both the option and the responsibility to vote them out and select new leaders.

    The same is true of a school board: a school board is a democratically selected leadership from the community. The community has the option and the responsibility to remove representatives who do not reflect the dedication and leadership desired by the community.

    The proposal is that those two groups, in concert with district administration, negotiate out an evaluation scheme that works for the district in question and the local circumstances in play there.

    The teachers’ union, in this case, provides the teachers’ consensus of what teachers should have input into the evaluation scheme. The final evaluation scheme, once developed by – one imagines – a committee with all stakeholders – then has to be approved by all three entities.

    I don’t see the problem.

  3. Ed 4 years ago4 years ago

    Unless they remove the requirement to negotiate the evaluation with the local bargaining unit, nothing will change. The following is adopted from policy materials published by Students First; it is compelling: School district governing boards should work with teachers to develop evaluation systems, rather than imposing systems on teachers; evidence proves that teacher input and involvement in their evaluation and development strengthens both the process and the outcomes. Accordingly, teachers must have a voice … Read More

    Unless they remove the requirement to negotiate the evaluation with the local bargaining unit, nothing will change. The following is adopted from policy materials published by Students First; it is compelling:

    School district governing boards should work with teachers to develop evaluation systems, rather than imposing systems on teachers; evidence proves that teacher input and involvement in their evaluation and development strengthens both the process and the outcomes. Accordingly, teachers must have a voice in ensuring their evaluation accurately ties to their stated goals and objectives.

    However, embedding the systems in collective bargaining agreements or giving union leaders veto power over the final product does not actually have that effect. The reality is that the structure of unions and the way they are organized makes them systematically inappropriate for driving the decision-making for evaluations. Union leaders are legally obligated to represent the interests of all of their members, including ineffective members. Although union leaders express an interest in quality, they have a fiduciary responsibility to their organization to enhance unity and protect low performers. As a result, union leadership, or the vocal minority of teachers, disproportionately influences the evaluation process to skew toward interests that conflict with those of high performing or promising teachers. While, the majority of rank-and-file teachers deeply value strong colleagues and a culture of excellence, the ethic of high standards becomes lost in the process when the union expends time, effort, and money fighting for the lowest performers.

    Stated simply, labor leadership has a conflict of interest when it comes to evaluation of their members. A school should not be impaired in its ability to serve families by an evaluation system negotiated to protect the jobs of poor performers.

    So far every version of AB 5 (the authored by Mr. Fuentes and the one forced on him by Speaker Perez) has required local bargaining without any statutory requirement that student test scores play a significant role. Unions would be obligated to veto anything that does not minimize such objective measures in a effort to represent all teachers, including those who perform poorly.

    Replies

    • Bea 4 years ago4 years ago

      Ed, how do you propose that teachers have a voice in developing evaluation systems if the role of the union is eliminated? You posit that the majority of teachers value strong colleagues and a culture of excellence, but when they speak collectively, they mitigate their own values. Really? It takes at least two parties to forge a contract. In this case the district would negotiate the details of an evaluation scheme locally, in partnership with the teachers … Read More

      Ed, how do you propose that teachers have a voice in developing evaluation systems if the role of the union is eliminated?

      You posit that the majority of teachers value strong colleagues and a culture of excellence, but when they speak collectively, they mitigate their own values. Really?

      It takes at least two parties to forge a contract. In this case the district would negotiate the details of an evaluation scheme locally, in partnership with the teachers directly impacted. But you seem to be arguing that the district and its board divine the teachers’ desires without giving them a seat at the table.

  4. Liz Guillen 4 years ago4 years ago

    John, As I testified yesterday in Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, Public Advocates believes that teacher evaluations should take into account, in significant part, teachers’ contributions to students’ learning. But, to clarify, we believe that evidence of student learning should be based on multiple sources, such as student work products, final portfolios and exhibitions, district assessments, and state or national standardized tests only where they are valid and appropriate for the students and curriculum being taught. … Read More

    John, As I testified yesterday in Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, Public Advocates believes that teacher evaluations should take into account, in significant part, teachers’ contributions to students’ learning. But, to clarify, we believe that evidence of student learning should be based on multiple sources, such as student work products, final portfolios and exhibitions, district assessments, and state or national standardized tests only where they are valid and appropriate for the students and curriculum being taught. We and our grassroots community partners, including leaders with PICO California who also testified at yesterday’s hearing, also have advocated for amendments to AB 5 to require the involvement of students and parents in the teacher evaluation process—a glaring hole in the current bill. ~ liz

    Replies

    • Navigio 4 years ago4 years ago

      Please feel free to close the 80+ percent of charter schools that are 'performing' worse or no better than their respective traditional public schools (or fire all their teachers). It would go a long way toward making your rhetoric more credible. Regardless, I'm still confused why we refer to standardized test scores as objective measures of teacher quality. Even if they were objective (which some even refute), they generally measure much more than teacher input, and … Read More

      Please feel free to close the 80+ percent of charter schools that are ‘performing’ worse or no better than their respective traditional public schools (or fire all their teachers). It would go a long way toward making your rhetoric more credible.

      Regardless, I’m still confused why we refer to standardized test scores as objective measures of teacher quality. Even if they were objective (which some even refute), they generally measure much more than teacher input, and if the teacher happens to believe that a focus on tests is inappropriate they might even measure just the opposite.

      I say we try out test-based evaluations on administrators first. If that works out then we can talk.

      • Navigio 4 years ago4 years ago

        Sorry, that was supposed to be in response to Ed. Clicked the wrong ‘reply’. Must not have been paying attention during that standardized test prep chapter on computer usage…

      • Kourtnie 4 years ago4 years ago

        Please cite your source for your claim
        “80+ percent of charter schools that are ‘performing’ worse or no better than their respective traditional public schools”

        I highly doubt that is correct

        • el 4 years ago4 years ago

          It comes from here:

          http://credo.stanford.edu/reports/MULTIPLE_CHOICE_CREDO.pdf

          “The group portrait shows wide variation in performance. The study reveals that a decent fraction of charter schools, 17 percent, provide superior education opportunities for their students. Nearly half of the charter schools nationwide have results that are no different from the local public school options and over a third, 37 percent, deliver learning results that are significantly worse than their student would have realized had they remained in traditional public schools.”

          • navigio 4 years ago4 years ago

            thanks el. Sorry Kourtnie, I never noticed your question. My bad. And note, my comment was asking for nothing more than consistency. We dont get that (not surprisingly), but even worse, we dont even follow the own CCSA's recommendations for which schools charter schools to close. That's because charter schools have become nothing more than a political tool. While its nice to think choice is the American way, when one realizes that many of these schools are … Read More

            thanks el. Sorry Kourtnie, I never noticed your question. My bad.

            And note, my comment was asking for nothing more than consistency. We dont get that (not surprisingly), but even worse, we dont even follow the own CCSA’s recommendations for which schools charter schools to close.

            That’s because charter schools have become nothing more than a political tool. While its nice to think choice is the American way, when one realizes that many of these schools are actually doing more harm (using the same measures to claim traditional public schools are failing), then it should cease to become the mere game that it is for so many people.

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