Student Learning and Teacher Performance

Friday, July 24, 2009

President Obama and Education Secretary Duncan have drawn a clear line in the sand with regard to evaluating teacher performance: States with laws that restrict the use of student achievement data in employment evaluations -- including California, New York and Wisconsin -- may be rendered all-but-ineligible for competitive grants, such as Race To The Top funding, in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Read more in John Dillon's New York Times story ("Administration Takes Aim At State Laws on Teachers").

In a speech last month, Secretary Duncan named Wisconsin as a state with such restrictions in place. Wisconsin law -- 121.02(1)(q) -- requires schools boards to "evaluate, in writing, the performance of all certified school personnel at the end of their first year and at least every 3rd year thereafter." Further, 118.30 2(b)4.(c) restricts the results of student assessments from being "used to evaluate teacher performance, to discharge, suspend or formally discipline a teacher or as the reason for the nonrenewal of a teacher's contract." [Kudos to Chris Thorn at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research for rooting out the offending statute in question! I won't quit my day job.]

Between this restrictive law and the state's distinction as having the largest black-white achievement gap in reading in the nation, it seems that the state's chances in the Race To The Top competition are very poor. In a recent post, I gave Wisconsin 30-1 odds. Let's make it 50-1.

The U.S. Department of Education today has released draft rules that will govern the competition for and allocation of competitive ARRA dollars. This information is available at (For great early analysis, go to Teacher Beat.)