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Tacoma News Tribune: Deal Reached on Teacher Evaluations

By Josh Feit February 13, 2012

UPDATE: A cautionary note on this. Sources in both camps have told me "everything's up in the air" and "nothing's in writing" yet.

UPDATE #2:

Rep. Lytton and Sen. Litzow released a joint statement today in response to speculation that they've reached a compromise on their competing teacher evaluation bills.

From their statement:
“We are close to a compromise on a teacher evaluation proposal that still needs to be vetted by our Democratic and Republication colleagues in the Senate and House,” McAuliffe said. “The input of my caucus colleagues is very important to me and I wouldn’t move forward without their thoughts. It’s imperative we reach a decision to ensure our children can have the highest quality education in the classroom.”

“We are working hard to reach a bipartisan agreement on this proposal, which I hope can be turned into legislation to be voted on tomorrow,” Litzow said. “I believe this is a critical vote to take for the quality of our children’s education.”

“There have been many substantive, bipartisan conversations with all advocacy groups,” Lytton said. “I believe we are close to an agreement that would take our state’s teacher evaluation system to the next level, and my colleagues and I will continue working until we find a solution that will help all our students.”

The TNT's Jordan Schrader has the scoop:  After a weekend of negotiations managed by Gov. Chris Gregoire, a deal has been reached on  competing education reform bills.

One sponsored by Sen. Rodney Tom (D-48, Bellevue) —and supported by education reformers in sync with the President Obama/Arne Duncan agenda (though not many local Democrats)—explicitly ties student performance to teacher evaluations; evaluations that would also play a direct role in salary and hiring and firing. The other, sponsored by Rep. Kristine Lytton (D-40, Anacortes)—and supported by the teachers union—would have allowed school districts to use student achievement as a metric in teacher evaluations, but not mandated it. Additionally, the Lytton bill would not have mandated that hiring and firing be based on the evaluations.

The TNT's report outlines the deal, which sounds like it favors the Tom bill:
Set up a four-tier, eight-criteria evaluation system for teachers and principals that would replace the current two tier system and start being implemented in the 2013-2014 school year, as required in existing law.

Require multiple “student growth measures” (such as test scores) to be a factor in evaluations — specifically, Dammeier said, they must be a “substantial factor” in at least three of the eight criteria for evaluation. Current law says districts “may” consider student growth.

In perhaps the most significant change, evaluations must be a “factor” in laying off or reassigning educators — but not until the 2015-2016 school year.

New teachers rated at the lowest tier would not be able to obtain tenure, remaining on provisional, year-to-year status. Veteran teachers rated at the lowest tier for two years would be terminated, subject to various due-process rights.

Teachers rated in the two highest tiers would be able to obtain tenure earlier than the usual three years.

Tenure would not be revoked for poor performance, as some of the proposals had called for.

Principals would have some ability to reject reassignment of teachers to their schools.

Supporters of Sen. Tom's approach for stricter and more specific evaluation standards—a coalition Republicans and moderate Democrats (and some progressives such as state Rep. Eric Pettigrew)—have used the budget as a bargaining chip, saying their education reform agenda was a "go home" issue (meaning they wouldn't support the budget unless ed reform measures went through.)

Their other agenda item, charter schools, is reportedly not part of the deal.

I'll report more details as I get them.
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