Lawmakers and interest groups work on Tomblin’s teacher evaluation bill
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By Steven Allen Adams | West Virginia Watchdog
CHARLESTON — Teachers’ unions and other interest groups crammed into the office of the Senate Education Committee Chairman to hammer out language for a committee substitute to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s proposal for teacher evaluations and a mentoring program.
A Senate Education subcommittee chaired by state Sen. Richard Browning (D-Wyoming) met in the office of Education Committee Chairman Robert Plymale (D-Wayne).
The subcommittee was joined by representatives of the state Department of Education, the West Virginia Education Association, the state chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, the West Virginia Association of Elementary and Middle School Principals, and West Virginia Professional Educators.
Lawmakers are considering new language to SB372, Gov. Tomblin’s teacher evaluation bill. The legislation would expand a pilot program currently only one year old, requiring all 55 county school systems to evaluate their teachers annually by 2014. Currently only 25 schools are in the pilot program. If passed, a teacher would take yearly evaluates based partly on standardized tests and overall student growth.
A side goal of the legislation is putting the evaluation in place so the state can request a waiver from the provisions of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Last week, the Obama administration granted 10 waivers for NCLB, which requires students in every state to meet annual yearly progress (AYP) goals in reading in math by 2014. Many states are nowhere close to meeting the NCLB goals.
“I understand that you have to have an annual evaluation in place to request any waiver from No Child Left Behind and if that’s not reauthorized in 2014, when 100 percent of all our students will be proficient, that’s not possible,” said Dale Lee, President of the WVEA.
Still, Lee said that the pilot program hasn’t been given enough time to see if it’s working.
“It concerns me that under the bill we implement it full-scale after the second year of the pilot,” Lee said. “I understand the reasoning for that….but I’m not 100 percent sure we’ll be ready at that time. I just think this was such a large undertaking; it took such a long time just to come up with the pilot we have.”
Another concern brought up by the unions is the peer mentoring program included in the bill. The bill includes no additional funding for the mentoring program, which would team up new teachers with seasoned teachers. The bill also leaves it up to the individual counties to implement the mentoring programs.
“I’m very apprehensive about, first of all, there not being any money dedicated to the mentorship program, and also that we’re just going to leave it up to the counties to do mentoring,” said Judy Hale, President of AFT-WV. “This is a need they may consider they can put at the bottom of the list.”
“I think it’s so very important, given the fact that so many teachers leave the profession in the first three to five years,” she said. “While I know that Cabell County has an innovation zone and has done its own (mentoring program) and has done very well, not every superintendent is the Cabell County superintendent.”
Once the committee counsel writes a new draft of SB372, it could be reported to the full Senate Education Committee by next week. Bills must be out of their committees by Feb. 26
Posted under Education, Featured, Governor, Legislation, Legislature, News, State Senate, West Virginia.
Tags: American Federation of Teachers, Earl Ray Tomblin, evaluations, Richard Browning, Teacher, Tomblin, West Virginia, West Virginia Education Association
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