In the final days of the 2014 legislative session, teachers are telling their legislators the same thing they’ve told them for years: Mandating the use of state test scores in teacher evaluations is bad policy that doesn’t help teachers or students.
And despite what some elected politicians and their staffers are falsely claiming, WEA has never supported legislation that mandates state test scores in teacher evaluations.
“There is no research indicating that mandating the use of a one-time state test score improves student learning or strengthens teaching,” said Geraldine Pappas, a Bellevue teacher.
Dozens of teachers have met face-to-face with legislators in Olympia this week to share the same message. They are urging lawmakers to oppose legislation mandating state test scores in evaluations – and to let school districts finish implementing the state’s rigorous new teacher evaluation system without further changes.
Two evaluation bills, House Bill 2800 and Senate Bill 5880, have not gone to a full vote in either chamber. WEA members oppose both of them, and many legislators have told teachers they oppose the bills as well. The legislative session ends Thursday, March 13.
“Mandating test scores in my evaluation does not effectively evaluate my skills as a teacher,” said Martha Patterson, who teaches special education students in Bremerton and was in Olympia Tuesday. “Test scores don’t reflect what I teach my students.”
Politicians say they are pushing for the change so US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will renew Washington’s waiver from unrealistic, outdated requirements of No Child Left Behind, which Congress passed in 2002 but hasn’t been updated.
Patterson and other teachers said mandating state test scores is a bad idea whether it happens now (SB 5880) or in three years (HB 2800). While WEA has requested a three-year extension of the current waiver, WEA has always opposed legislation mandating the use of state test scores in teacher evaluation. The current law allows school districts to use state test scores, but doesn’t mandate it.
Politicians who support the bills have said Washington will lose millions in federal education funding and that schools will be forced to send parents letters declaring their schools are failures. Neither claim is true.
Meanwhile, legislators haven’t reached agreement on a final budget. The House budget restores educator cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs), but the Senate budget does not. Neither budget funds smaller K-12 class sizes, even though Washington is ranked 47th out of 50 states, and they come nowhere near funding what is required by the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision.
A bill that deals with the 1,080 annual hour requirement for students and 24 credit graduation requirement, SB 6552, passed the Senate but has not been voted on in the full House.