California Legislature Mulling Over Changes to Teacher Evaluations

Once again, the California Legislature is considering making changes to the current teacher evaluation process set forth in the Stull Act (Education Code Section 44660 et seq.). One item of particular interest that is common to several of the pending legislative proposals is the use of pupil progress data as a significant part of the evaluation of teacher performance.

Senate Bill 453 (Huff) proposes, among other changes, to add a new section 44660.5 to the Education Code to provide, in pertinent part, that:

“A school district evaluation system…shall include a quantitative pupil academic achievement growth component that shall constitute at least 30 percent of the overall teacher effectiveness measure.”

Senate Bill 657 (Block) proposes to repeal the Stull Act altogether, and replace it with a new teacher evaluation article that would provide, in pertinent part, that:

“The formative evaluation process may include the use of unweighted multiple measures, including pupil assessment data.”

This proposed legislation appears to be motivated in part by the U.S. Department of Education’s No Child Left Behind Act waiver criteria, which requires that State and local educational agencies seeking waivers:

“…commit to develop, adopt, pilot, and implement…teacher and principal evaluation and support systems that…use multiple valid measures in determining performance levels, including as a significant factor data on student growth for all students…” (U.S. Department of Education, “ESEA Flexibility,” updated June 7, 2012.)

In addition, the pressure to include student assessment data in evaluations intensified after the Doe et al. v. Deasy et al. lawsuit and the subsequent agreement between Los Angeles Unified School District and the United Teachers Los Angeles to consider pupil progress data in setting goals for and evaluating teacher performance.

Although the California Teachers Association is once again poised to oppose any significant legislative changes in this area despite the strong momentum building from multiple fronts toward the incorporation of pupil progress data as a meaningful component of the teacher evaluation process, the California Federation of Teachers is actually sponsoring SB 657.

It is clear that momentum is continuing to build both nationally and statewide toward the inclusion of quantitative pupil progress data as a key factor in evaluating teacher performance. While it is unclear whether or not this wave of momentum will be strong enough to carry any of the currently pending bills through the California Legislature, school districts should nonetheless be thinking about, and planning for, such changes to take place in the near future, whether they may come from legislation, litigation, or collective bargaining (or some combination thereof).


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