Friday, March 2, 2012

State education bill passes - addresses poor teacher and principal performance

Governor Christine Gregoire expected to sign bill soon .

Late last night, the House passed SB 5895 is an overwhelming 82-16 vote! It was a jubilant moment for the lawmakers and advocates who have pushed so hard over the last three years for a more meaningful way of evaluating the teachers and principals of our state. Gov. Christine Gregoire is expected to sign the bill soon.

Senator Tom says no legislation is ever perfect.  Lawmakers and advocacy groups will have to carefully watch implementation of the system by local school districts.  But under the bill, for the first time:
New teachers who are rated unsatisfactory will be prevented from getting tenure. Even more ground-breaking is that tenured teachers who are rated unsatisfactory two years in a row will be fired.
Washington will now join a growing number of states which include how much kids are actually learning in the classroom in teacher and principal evaluations. Districts will develop assignment and layoff policies that consider those evaluation results. Read More >>

On another note, as our state emerges from a punishing recession, it's no surprise that lawmakers are short about $1.1 billion. The good news in the House budget is that there are few cuts to basic public education. There is continued funding for levy equalization guaranteeing that property poor counties get the same per-student dollars as wealthier ones and for full-day kindergarten for low-income kids.

Despite steady improvements in some schools, 164,000 children failed to meet Washington state reading standards last year, according to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. We know that our students can do better. And nothing is more vital to how much they learn in school than the quality of our teachers and principals.

Our current evaluations use pass-fail ratings that do not include how well children are doing academically. The new four-tiered system would finally make student growth, measured by state and strict achievement tests, a factor in ratings. And those ratings would be used in making assignments and lay-offs.

Shannon Campion
Executive Director, Stand for Children Advocacy

Edited by Yoder

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