By Tom Chorneau / SI&A Cabinet Report | http://bit.ly/O9t0kG
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 :: Set aside nearly a year ago, legislation to overhaul the state’s teacher evaluation system appears set to resurface after new discussions between legislative leaders and the Brown administration.
AB 5, by Assemblyman Filipe Fuentes, D-Los Angeles, remains a viable bill even though it has sat dormant in the Senate Appropriations Committee since last August.
The bill was the product of much compromise between reform advocates, teacher organizations and key lawmakers – including Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, who merged his own evaluation proposal into the Fuentes legislation.
As proposed last summer, the bill would have, for the first time, called on school districts to use student outcomes as part of the performance analysis. But the measure was put on hold at the request of Gov. Jerry Brown, who indicated he was not supportive and wanted lawmakers to take more time to consider options.
Although the administration never publicly articulated what it wanted out of the bill, the measure was opposed by the California Teachers Association, which presents a significant political issue for any piece of legislation.
CTA remains opposed, according to its website, at least to last year’s version.
So far, there are no formal amendments to AB 5 that have been publicly aired. But capital sources indicated late last week that conversations have been ongoing between Fuentes’ office, Brown’s representatives and the speaker’s staff.
Rick Simpson, Speaker Perez’s top adviser on education issues, said in an e-mail this week that he is optimistic about moving the bill ahead.
“We think there is a high degree of consensus around the policy in AB 5 and we’re exploring options to deal with the bill’s fiscal issues,” he said.
And the cost issues are significant. The state’s existing evaluation system, known as the Stull Act, costs about $20 million annually to carry out. Some say the new model – with added administrative, training and related expenses – could double or even triple the costs.
Supporters tried to limit costs by linking its implementation with the first fiscal year in which one of the state’s key debts to schools has been reduced to zero: that is, the deficit factor – ongoing debt owed public schools as the result of the Legislature suspending cost-of-living increases that otherwise would be paid as part of revenue limit funding – now estimated at more than $8 billion.
But even with that caveat, the costs would be an issue. The bill calls for multiple observations of teachers by evaluators who have received ‘appropriate training’ and who have demonstrated competence in ‘teaching evaluation’ – both requirements expected to remain in the bill’s language and that will also cost money.
The interest in a better teacher accountability system has been growing for years but increased sharply when the Obama administration made it a component of the federal Race to the Top grant competition as well as other programs.
As a result of commitments made under federal funding or prompting from community demands as well as courts – a number of districts are engaged with their local teachers unions over new evaluation systems that include student performance as an indicator.
Most prominent is Los Angeles Unified, which was found by a superior court judge to have violated the Stull Act’s requirements that evaluations of teachers and principals include measures of how well students learn what the state expects them to know. But the judge left it largely to the district and the union to define what those measures would be – thus, it is assumed that the evaluation will become fodder for the negotiation table.
AB 5 (Fuentes)
Existing law states the intent of the Legislature that governing boards of school districts establish a uniform system of evaluation and assessment of the performance of all certificated personnel within each school district of the state. Existing law requires the governing board of each school district to establish standards of expected pupil achievement at each grade level in each area of study and to evaluate and assess certificated employee performance on a continuing basis as it reasonably relates to the progress of pupils toward the established standards and, if applicable, the state adopted academic content standards as measured by state adopted criterion referenced assessments, the instructional techniques and strategies used by the employee, the employee’s adherence to curricular objectives, and the establishment and maintenance of a suitable learning environment, within the scope of the employee’s responsibilities.
This bill would provide that the provisions described above would become inoperative on July 1 of the first fiscal year following the fiscal year in which the deficit factor, as specified, is reduced to zero. The bill would state findings and declarations of the Legislature regarding the nature of effective teachers and of the teaching profession. Commencing on July 1 of the first fiscal year following the fiscal year in which the deficit factor, as specified, is reduced to zero, the bill would require the governing board of each school district to adopt and implement a locally negotiated best practices teacher evaluation system, described as one in which each teacher is evaluated on a continuing basis on the degree to which he or she accomplishes specific objectives and multiple observations of instructional and other professional practices are conducted by trained evaluators. The bill would also require the governing board of each school district to establish and define job responsibilities for certificated, noninstructional employees and evaluate and assess their performance in relation to those responsibilities. The bill would provide that these provisions do not apply to certificated personnel who are employed on an hourly basis in adult education classes.
By requiring school districts to perform additional duties, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to these statutory provisions.