Putting Education Reform To The Test

States Asking Feds For Leeway On Teacher Evaluations And Testing

Nine states are worried about testing students twice and are asking the federal Department of Education to loosen NCLB requirements.

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Nine states are worried about testing students twice and are asking the federal Department of Education to loosen NCLB requirements.

States granted exemptions from the federal No Child Left Behind law are asking for more time to get ready for new teacher evaluation rules and to not have to test students twice on both new standards and outgoing standards, according to Education Week.

A dozen states have asked for more time to prepare for new teacher evaluation rules. Nine states are worried about having to test students twice — once to field test new multi-state exams tied to Common Core standards and once using existing state assessments.

Florida is not among either group of states, but the decision could be relevant. How states decide to measure school and teacher performance while making the switch to the Common Core math and English standards and accompanying testing is the next big debate over the standards:

States including Maryland, Kentucky, and North Carolina want to delay, by one year, tying teacher evaluations to teacher personnel decisions. That’s something federal officials offered back in June as states struggled to implement new common standards, new tests, and high-stakes teacher-rating systems that tie personnel decisions to student growth. Under No Child Left Behind Act waivers, states were originally supposed to implement new evaluation systems and tie them to personnel decisions, such as firings and tenure, by the 2015-16 school year. The added flexibility, dubbed “waiver-waivers,” would allow states to have until 2016-17.

The other nine states seeking the evaluation waiver-waivers are: Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, and Washington.

The double-testing waiver allows states to suspend some of their current tests and give only the field tests from the common-testing consortia—to avoid double testing students. The 15 states that are seeking this waiver, which is open to non-NCLB-waiver states, are: California, Connecticut Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Vermont, and Washington.

The debate over what to do about school grades, teacher evaluations and Florida’s next test is just beginning. Florida superintendents have proposed extending the transition by three years and rewriting the state’s school grading and teacher evaluation formulas.

Lawmakers have not shown any signs they’re interested in delaying the 2011 teacher evaluation law, SB 736. That law requires school districts begin paying teachers based on their evaluation scores next year (some districts already do). Florida is scheduled to switch to a new Common Core-tied test in early 2015, though lawmakers have said they want to delay that date one year.


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