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August 04, 2009
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Yesterday Bellwether Education Partners released a scorecard that evaluated teacher effectiveness legislation in five different states. Given that Ohio's just-enacted biennial budget (which we did a post-op of here) forced some changes to teacher evaluation policy, we were disappointed to see Bellwether skip the Buckeye State.
The report rated Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, and Tennessee against specific metrics measuring the quality of the actual legislation passed (not the fidelity of implementation or progress made toward goals). Indiana received the highest rating (11.25 out of 13). Not that we needed validation, but this should reaffirm to Ohio lawmakers that our spring visit from Indiana State Superintendent Tony Bennett was a worthwhile one, and that the Hoosier State has some ideas worth borrowing. Illinois, which received loud praise for its unanimous/bipartisan passage of SB 7 earlier this year, rated lowest (6.5 out of 13). This isn't wholly unsurprising; we raised issue with Illinois' teacher reforms back in April:
A?quick?look at the bill raises several questions about its ability to improve teaching effectiveness when the time comes for actual implementation:?The bill requires locally-approved teacher evaluation plans in "good faith" consultation with unions serving on a joint committee with administrators, and sets a 90 day window after which all bets are off.?There's no hard requirement that 50 percent of evaluation be based on student achievement.?There's no hard deadline for developing a new plan.?Districts can request a waiver and it will be granted automatically if the state doesn't respond within 45 days.?
The variables used to judge the rigor of teacher effectiveness laws are good ones, and worth comparing Ohio against. The following are Bellwether's questions and an attempt to see how Ohio's recently-passed HB 153 measures up.
*Caveat on Senate Bill 5: Ohio's ratings according to Bellwether's list of questions would/could change depending on the outcome of Senate Bill 5, a controversial measure to reform public sector collective bargaining in Ohio signed by Governor Kasich this spring and up for referendum this fall. (Specifically ? it would change the answers to #5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, and 13; SB 5 would effectively abolish tenure ? so theoretically effectiveness would replace seniority in key personnel decisions ? and it would also weaken collective bargaining and possibly give principals more freedom over staff decisions. It would also require merit pay across the board.)?
Ok - we see why Bellwether didn't include Ohio. Overall, it doesn't fare well? ? at least not compared to other states or even to earlier iterations of HB 153. As we've said before, details are up in the air (districts have a lot of autonomy to determine their own evaluations) and rigorous and thoughtful implementation of teacher effectiveness policies will make a world of difference in whether any of these changes make a dent in student achievement over the long haul.
- Jamie Davies O'Leary