You may have seen the latest headlines from the world of Minnesota education politics: the state legislature is set to send a big, controversial education bill to Governor Dayton.
The bad news is important pre-K reforms were completely gutted, but the good news is that teacher effectiveness made it in. This is great progress, but the debate around other, more controversial issues in the bill is overshadowing teacher effectiveness and threatening its chances of passing this year. Please send a letter urging Minnesota’s leaders to make teacher effectiveness a standalone bill so that it doesn’t get lost in this political crossfire.
Part of making great policy is paying attention to the details, which is what MinnCAN has done ever since this policy debate began two months ago. From the beginning MinnCAN has said that a good teacher effectiveness policy should include the following principles:
Teachers should be evaluated annually and given feedback on their performance;
Objective evidence of student growth should be the primary criterion of these evaluations;
Students’ growth and progress towards grade level proficiency should be reported annually; and
Evaluations should be connected to consequences, whether positive or negative.
All of these provisions are included in the current omnibus bill. But there are other provisions that would make the current policy even stronger. For example, the current language creates an 18-member committee to oversee the implementation of over 400 different evaluation systems, since each individual district and charter school will be responsible for developing its own evaluation system.
Unsurprisingly, it will be next to impossible for 18 people to oversee the implementation of so many different systems. But this problem can be solved by making a few changes:
Instead of overseeing implementation, this committee should be charged with overseeing the design of a statewide framework for teacher evaluation that local districts and charter schools can then implement.
The committee should be comprised of policy experts with the know-how to build a strong, data-driven teacher evaluation system, as well as teachers and other stakeholders with an on-the-ground perspective.
The Department of Education should be responsible for overseeing the implementation of the statewide system developed by the committee.
With only a few days left in the legislative session, MinnCAN is gearing up for the final sprint to make sure teacher effectiveness is passed this year. Republicans and Democrats alike have said they want to build a system to fill Minnesota classrooms with great teachers. Please join us in holding them to their promise.
Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jayneandd/