Distinctions That Make A Difference

The LAT story about how President Obama’s stance on teacher data puts him at odds with California includes this passage:

You cannot ignore facts,” Obama said. “That is why any state that makes it unlawful to link student progress to teacher evaluations will have to change its ways.”

The remarks escalate a disagreement between the Obama administration and California education leaders. While a 2006 law prohibits the use of student test scores to evaluate teachers on a state level, it does not mention local districts, where state officials say pupil data can be used to judge instructors. A handful of districts currently are doing that; L.A. Unified is not.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Friday he would push to amend state law if necessary.

Hmmm….I can’t imagine State Board of Education President Ted Mitchell would be opposed, he’s a reformer’s reformer.   So doesn’t the Obama stance put the Administration more at odds with the California teachers union more than “leaders” in general.  To be fair, the story strongly implies this lower down but why not just come out and say that?  Or if there are other leaders who are opposed, name them.  Readers want to know!

The article also says:

Federal officials have said that California legislators do not have to necessarily revise current law. Instead, the attorney general could certify that the state law is not a barrier to teacher accountability.

Although conceivably a state could cobble together a district by district approach to doing this, the guidance doesn’t read this way.  And such an approach would be a pretty significant loophole with the potential to undermine the intent.    Readers want some sourcing!  This reader at least.

3 thoughts on “Distinctions That Make A Difference

  1. virginia tibbetts

    Does anyone know the Senate or Assembly bill number associated with this law that “prohibits the use of student test scores to evaluate teachers on a state level”? Would love to read it.

  2. L Scherger

    I am always humored by politicians who debate about things they don’t know anything about. When is the last time any of these guys stepped in a classroom and tried to teach children who are distracted by real issues like poverty, family chaos, or abuse? It is these children who do not score well. I, as a teacher, am aware of the genuine needs of my students and go above and beyond to meet them My students make progress but they struggle to reach the cognitive level of their peers with families who essentially home-school them since birth. Why is it that I am considered an inadequate teacher if my test scores do not reflect a certain percentile.

  3. S. Roberts

    I am a graduate student at Walden University, and very surprised by the initial comments made by President Obama in reference to student test scores and teacher evaluations. I fully understand that data is there for a reason, however should so much emphasis be put on it when it comes to evaluating teachers. Through NCLB it is almost impossible for some students progress to be calculated as a gain when their score does not meet the API/AYP. Students are progressing at their level, however as we draw near to 2012 the bar goes higher for gains in the “eyesight” of the government. As I stated in a recent interview I had for a teaching position, data is important and needed but to use it as a large percentage of evaluating a teacher’s preformance is unfair. I believe all who teach do his/her very best daily and want his/her students to reach the level of “Proficiency” or “Advanced.” However, if a student does not reach that level is s/he not learning? My teaching is not considered acceptable if “all” of my students are not in the higher bands? I wonder if those who are setting these guidelines entered our classrooms would they have the same outlook?

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