Friday, December 18, 2009

Are You Listening and Watching Race to the Top?

On December 17, LAE President Joyce Haynes went on record with our intent to not support Race to the Top as it currently stands.
What concerns LAE?
1. The mandate that 50 percent of a teachers' evaluation will be based upon a single measure of assessment (student test score). The DOE was unwilling to work on concerns around teacher evaluation and the philosophical use of student assessments as at least 50 percent of the teacher evaluation process.
a) This philosophical focus is seriously questioned in much of the research, does both teachers and students a disservice, and provides a stumbling block to serious negotiations around developing an effective teacher evaluation process that can be supported by the entire education community;
b) Placing too much focus on standardized tests can actually harm student instruction and over all student growth by putting too much emphasis on a narrow-based test;
c) Value-added-and to some extent growth models of assessment-are inconsistent and not fully transparent to those being assessed;
d) No decision of what other factors will be present in the teacher evaluation.
2. LAE also has concerns dealing with the state data system coupled with interim benchmark assessments. While we support strong, accessible data that can inform instruction, in the past there has been and continues to be the opportunity for such systems to be misused. LAE has some concerns that the state will reinstate scripted curricular programs with defined instructional practice rather than allow the "great teachers and leaders" at the school to make professional informed decisions at the school and classroom level.
Other LAE concerns
1. The indication that due process as we now know will be adversely affected.
2. The indication that benefits currently enjoyed by school employees will be adversely affected.
3. The lack of financial sustainability.
4. Early Race to the Top draft documents included 3.5 times as many dollars for charter schools as for large districts on a per student count.
5. What state dollars will be re-directed to support Race to the Top? Will the Minimum Foundation Program be reduced? Will programs such as National Accreditation grants be reduced?
6. Will BESE decide to allow the superintendent to gain control of 8g funds?
The aforementioned concerns are only the tip of the iceberg. You may have concerns that may not have been listed, but are equally as important.
January and February of 2010 will be very interesting. As the situation seems to change by the day, LAE urges your vigilance and requests your participation in our Association's democratic process.

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