Monday, March 10, 2014

SEA Fighting Back on NCLB Waiver

 Update:  good POV from a teacher on this issue.  One interesting statement:

Last week I attended a function at the University of Puget Sound where Bellevue Elementary Teacher Linda Myrick made an excellent point. She noted that some (certainly not all) of her students who fare well on tests have told her that they think some of their performance can be attributed to the extra tutoring their parents paid for them to attend over the weekend.

Superintendent Banda sent a letter to the Legislature last week, urging them to pass the teacher evaluation bill that would require test scores to be used for teacher evaluations.  (Currently, they can be but don't have to be used.) What makes this also important is that the Seattle teacher evaluation  in the CBA already mandates using the data but the rest of the state in their local CBAs do not.  The feds want everybody in the pool.

At times Banda uses the word "lost" versus "redirected" about the money that would be available under the waiver.   What I was told by the WEA is that even if the waiver didn't come thru, that the district would set aside dollars for these purposes.   They said that last year both Seattle and Tacoma didn't even use half their money.  And, that any money not used (if the districts set it aside) would just roll back into the general fund.

There are several superintendents - in Shoreline, Snohomish and Stanwood-Camano - who are against the change.

From Publicola:

William Mester, the Snohomish superintendent, for example, wrote to state superintendent Randy Dorn and OSPI in February: 

"These new tests assess only a narrow slice of what is taught in any given year and are limited according to OSPI’s own analysis to the professional context of no more than 16 percent of all educators. The results of these tests are not timely for instruction and can not be used to attribute any performance to any particular educator. While these tests may provide feedback on a narrow aspect of what a student might have learned, they can not determine why a particular student did or did not learn or who is responsible what did or did not happen. These tests can not be used to help educators grow or improve as they provide absolutely no feedback about the specific attributes of classroom practice."

That last sentence begs the question of what ARE assessment for - just to judge a teacher or help inform teaching and learning?

Publicola is reporting that the SEA sent an email to legislators.  

And the SEA contract, as opposed to many district contracts, already requires statewide student test scores be part of teacher evaluations. This makes Knapp's argument more powerful. He writes:

Most of our Distinguished teachers were eager to see their superior practice confirmed by the data. That DID NOT happen. Teachers believe that student growth data is hugely important for helping teachers understand student growth, but the correlation to great teaching is now seen to be so weak that the idea of student test scores as a required student growth measure is bringing teachers into open revolt.

Knapp goes on to note that that feds already knew what Washington state's teacher evaluations looked like when they agreed to go ahead with Race to the Top grants. Pointing out the lapse in federal logic, he writes: "The Department of Education knew what the teacher evaluation system was in Washington state when it approved the grant.  It cannot be good enough for approval of the grant, but not good enough to keep the grant."

Knapp concludes by saying that any change to the teacher evaluation system is a district by district collective bargaining issue not a matter for legislators.

The legislative session ends on Thursday the 13th.  


Anonymous said...

Mr. Knapp appears to be confusing Race to the Top grants and No Child Left Behind waivers. Washington did NOT receive a RTTT grant. Washington did receive a NCLB waiver (which is not a grant); however, the approval of this waiver is conditional upon Washington's adoption of the use of state test scores in teacher evaluation.

Washington has known since at least March 2013 that the NCLB waiver is in jeopardy of being revoked (and certainly not extended beyond this school year) if the US Department of Education's demands are not met.

--- swk

Anonymous said...

While showing independence in some respects, Banda is a tool for
Gates and company when it comes to linking evaluations to test scores.

This is another example of why teaching in Seattle is so stressful and thankless. Other superintendents support teachers. Seattle is a continual cesspool in terms of working environment.

BTW, sounds like Knapp is running scared of a likely challenge by Jesse Hagopian. Up until now, Knapp has gladly joined the district in selling teachers down the river under the guise of "collaboration with the district."

--enough already

Melissa Westbrook said...

SWK, no RTTT? Maybe not for Washington but Seattle did. Because at the Board retreat it was reported that the district was getting $1M a year for the next five years from RTTT. It was on the presentation. So I'm confused as is Knapp.

Anonymous said...

What funds from Gates does the NEA accept? Since Seattle's SEA roles up to the NEA this is on-point information for those of us in Seattle.


Anonymous said...

Melissa, it is confusing. There have been a three separate Race to the Top grant programs --- (1) the state RTTT grants (which Washington applied for but did not receive), (2) the district RTTT grants (which Seattle applied for as a member of the Road Map Project --- this was awarded and does required state test scores as a part of teacher evaluation), and (3) early learning RTTT grants (which Washington applied for and received).

There is no threat of the loss of the district RTTT grants since the Road Map Project member districts have adopted the use of state test scores as a part of teacher evaluation.

The pertinent issue playing out in Olympia pertains exclusively to the NCLB waiver. It is this potential loss of the waiver that has concerned the governor, Superintendent Dorn, and others. Again, there is no threat of the loss of the district RTTT grant through the Road Map Project.

--- swk

mirmac1 said...


I don't suppose they reported at the board the heck much SPS had to kick in with "in-kind" contributions for the Road Map RTTT grants (that are intended for "one-time" investment). I'm curious where the "next 5 years" comes from. I can guess who "misspoke" to the board....

Angry Teacher said...

SPS already has a waiver due to RTT and Road Map project.

Has Banda made an attempt to mislead the public?

Please clarify.

Gate's Tool said...

Superintendents in Shoreline, Snohomish and Stanwood wrote beautiful letters to the legislatue and urged a NO vote.
Their reasoning is sound.

Anonymous said...

I am confused by the legislature's schedule. I thought all bills had to be out of committee last week. This was not acted on, last I heard. Can legislation still be introduced?


Anonymous said...

Angry Teacher, SPS does NOT have a "waiver." The waiver to which all of this applies is the waiver that the US Department of Education granted to states and states only (except for the 8 CORE districts in California) of certain provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind law. One requirement of this waiver is that schools and district MUST include state test scores in teacher evaluations. If Washington does not comply with this requirement, the USDE could revoke (or not renew) the state's waiver. If this waiver is revoked, ALL districts must then comply with all provisions of No Child Left Behind.

One such provision of NCLB requires that districts set aside a certain percentage of their Title I dollars for outside vendors to provide "supplemental services" to low-income students in schools in need of improvement. [NOTE: No Child Left Behind is the mechanism in states, districts, and schools receive Title I dollars.] In the case of SPS, this set aside constitutes about $2.8 million.

Again, the RTTT grant that SPS received through the Road Map Project is unrelated to the state's NCLB waiver. And what must be confusing is this --- even though Seattle might require the use of state test scores in teacher evaluation, SPS would still have to set aside the $2.8M if the state's NCLB waiver is revoked.

So, no, Band is not attempting to mislead the public. He is correct regarding the $2.8M.

--- swk

Anonymous said...

SavvyVoter, if the Legislature declares these bills on teacher evaluation "necessary to implement the budget," then they don't have to pass on the same schedule as policy bills. Essentially, these bills become budget bills.

--- swk

Melissa Westbrook said...

Let's just say that - as usual - SPS is not telling the whole story.

I suspect this legislation will go down to the wire. Is it scare tactics (no money) or does this move the needle on teacher improvement?

One interesting part of the legislation (at least in one bill) is the notation of "no waiver, this bill is null and void." Duncan has made no real promise so that's something to watch as well.

Anonymous said...

Duncan is the single worst hire of Obama's presidency. That he has remained in place in Obama's second term is retch-worthy. Could a Republican have done more national ed policy damage to our students? Doubt it. He's so bad that I now actively count down to the end of the Obama years.


Long/ Short said...

Teachers would be assessed on Smarter Balanced tests, which haven't been piloted.

Is it smart to administer a test when CC is not up to speed, and, when the test hasn't been piloted?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, California got a wavier to NOT have to give both its old state test while piloting the CC assessment.

I honestly have no idea the thought process on CC but it gets worse and worse. Almost like people want public schools to fail.

Anonymous said...

I've finally figured it out!

Publicola is just about always on the side of Gate$.

Jonathan sould out his members on using state test scores in our evaluations.

Publicola publishes a piece making it look like Jonathan is not still selling


Robert Cruickshank said...

As Melissa pointed out, CA has a waiver on certain testing requirements, but not on NCLB. They had to fight Duncan even to get that. The legislature, the governor, and their OSPI all refused to agree to link teacher evaluations to test scores, and so the State of California lacks an NCLB waiver. The sky has not fallen there.

8 school districts in CA, including the enormous LAUSD, banded together and asked Duncan for a waiver anyway and said they would tie evaluations to test scores. They got that waiver (the CORE districts referred to above). That move was, and remains, deeply controversial and LAUSD may yet back out, depending on who wins the next school board election and whether that board retains or fires Superintendent Deasy.

The lesson for WA is clear: don't give in to Duncan's ridiculous demands.