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California Senate Considers Teacher Assessment Bill

California Senate Considers Teacher Assessment Bill


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UPDATED 4:50 p.m.

Senate Bill 453 was defeated during a hearing in the California Senate Education Committee, Wednesday.

ORIGINAL STORY

A bill that would change the way teachers are assessed and how layoffs are structured was heard before the California Senate Education Committee this week.

The bill would allow school districts to make staffing decisions based on how well a teacher is educating students, instead of decisions based on a teachers date of hire – otherwise known as “Last in, First Out,” according to a statement by Sen. Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, who introduced the bill.

Joe Messina, William S. Hart Union High School District board president and host of “The Real Side” on KHTS AM-1220, believes that the bill is in the best interest of California schools.

“I think it’s wonderful,” Messina said. “I think any bill, any education code, anything that allows us to keep our best and brightest teachers, to give our kids the best education they could possibly get, I’m all for that. Hopefully, they’ve got the input from the people that are involved in education, to make sure that the bill covers all the areas it needs to.”

Senate Bill 453 calls on school districts to establish a “multiple-measures evaluation system,” based in part on students’ outcome data, to assess teachers.

Newhall School District Superintendent Mark Winger said the bill would not remove seniority-based layoffs completely.

“We do have seniority rules. This would make an exemption from the seniority rules for certain teachers who performance evaluations are negative...” Winger said. “Seniority still is in place in most cases, but there would be some exemptions. The exemption would be that they work at a school that the governing board has said is exempt from seniority-based reductions.”

There are several things that should be looked at when making these difficult decisions, he said.

“I think the use of assessment in teacher evaluation is important,” Winger said. “I think it’s an important tool, but it’s only a small tool. It’s not 100 percent of the evaluation. It’s a piece of information that should be used in the evaluation along with all kinds of other information, like observations, contributions to the school, professional development.”

Saugus Union School District board President Judy Umeck said she had not read the bill yet, but supported the idea of making layoffs about less than just time with the district.

“It’s not necessarily good for education, and that’s not in deference to our experienced educators. We love our experienced educators, and there’s no substitute for experience. Its very sad that some of our layoffs were very qualified teachers.”

“With passage of this bill, our children will no longer be subject to an arbitrary system that does nothing to improve the quality of their education,” Huff said. “It is currently illegal for a school to retain their best teachers. That kind of policy is indefensible. It’s bad enough when districts have to layoff teachers to make ends meet.  But our kids deserve the best, and nothing should get in the way of that.”

The bill has earned the support of Los Angeles mayor and former Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa, who stated in a letter that the bill “allows districts to ensure that every student benefits from the best teacher possible.”

SB 453 is supported by a number of diverse groups, including the Congress of Racial Equality of California, the California School Boards Association, the California Chamber of Commerce, Voice for Our Kids, Parents for Quality Education, Parents Advocate League and Democrats for Education Reform.

The legislation is currently is being held because several Democratic members were not present for the hearing Wednesday, according to a spokesman for Huff.

“This bill would instead require the governing board of a school district to establish an evaluation and assessment system for certificated employees that uses a multiple-measures evaluation system with multiple research-validated approaches to measuring effectiveness, as specified,” it reads.

Click here to read the full text of the bill.


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