Is it inevitable that we will be RIFing teachers? Good question. In SPS, maybe. In other districts, probably.
In this morning's Seattle Times is a story about Rep. Rodney Tom who is sponsoring a bill that would make teacher effectiveness the main factor in RIFs.
Okay, so first of all, someone who is a lawyer, help me out. If they pass this law, it overcomes the teachers contracts that have already been signed? That seems wrong to me.
What is weird to me is that we know the SEA contract has a new evaluation process in it so the district is getting there. We also know that the district and Board negotiated the contract WITH seniority being the main criteria. So they knew very well what they were signing even though parents told them they didn't like seniority as the first criteria.
From the article:
Mary Lindquist of the Washington Education Association said lawmakers started last year to move toward a new teacher-evaluation system. About 17 school districts are researching, developing and testing model systems, some of which may be scaled up to be used across the state. This new approach likely will change the way districts lay off teachers, but Lindquist said school administrators and teachers need time to develop the new system.
"We're going into new territory. We need to take it slowly and make sure we're approaching it rationally and calmly and not in the midst of a heated and very divisive debate," Lindquist said Friday.Here's Tom's reply:
Tom said any other initiative aimed at improving student learning as much as one that ensures the best teachers remain in the classroom would cost the state billions of dollars. In other words, if his proposal is ignored and the system remains unchanged, a big potential savings would be lost, he argues.
About the bill:
Tom's bill, Senate Bill 5399, would require school districts facing layoffs to first lay off teachers who received the lowest average evaluation ratings during their two most recent evaluations, based on a formula that gives a weight of 60 percent to the most recent evaluation and 40 percent to the previous one.
The bill also proposes that school districts give teachers with high evaluation scores, who for some reason haven't been placed in a job with the district, first dibs on new jobs.
The bill, if it becomes a law, would require all future teacher collective-bargaining agreements to adhere to this policy.Rep. Tom did cite research from UW's Center for Education Data and Research about district policies and student results and said that student achievement could drop after seniority-based layoffs (between 2.5 to3.5 months). This is using value-added data.
Coincidentally, I just listened to a podcast of a researcher named Eric Hanushek from the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank at Stanford University. His basic premise is that you can put a monetary value on good teaching as relates to how our economy.
He says using test scores, you can measure improvement over time (like MAP). While you can't attribute all of improvement to teachers, you can certainly see patterns from teacher to teacher. He said a good teacher can improve a student's learning up to 1 1/2 years versus a poor teacher who might only be able to teach the equivalent of half a year of learning.
Going on the belief that students with more skills and more education earn more money over time as adults, then teachers who teach 25 students a year could add $500M to our economy.
He says if we replaced the bottom 5-8% of poor performing teachers just with average teachers, it would be worth up to $100 trillion dollars to our economy.
Okay, so now I can see how getting rid of the bottom 5% really could make a difference. I was having a hard time believing that few teachers were having that great an impact.
But we are back to the issue of evaluations and the research that shows value-added data doesn't really work AND we are already in the process of creating fair evaluations. Add the issue that we don't know how many teachers will be RIFed and how many of them are good teachers, then I find that Rep. Tom's bill is likely to add more chaos to the problem than solve anything.