By Granger Meador, Chief Negotiator, Bartlesville Education Association
In a most welcome development, the Teacher/Leader Effectiveness (TLE) Commission has unanimously recommended sweeping changes in the TLE appraisal system. (Bartlesville's Senator Ford, the chair of the Senate Education Committee and a member of the Commission, actively helped craft the recommendation language. But he declined to vote on the final recommendation to the State Board of Education; see below.)
The recommendation calls for scrapping Other Academic Measures (OAMs) and Student Learning/Outcome Objectives (SLO/SOOs). While it calls for retaining Value Added Measures (VAMs), the recommendation takes much of the potential sting out of their use, since it calls for eliminating TLE composite scores which would combine qualitative and quantitative scores, while also saying local school board policies (and bargaining agreements, unless specifically excluded in legislation), not statewide rules, should define how qualitative and available quantitative measures would be used for determining career teacher status and mandatory firings.
Don't count your chickens yet...
HOWEVER, many of the recommendations would require an amendatory law make it through the legislative process. Senator Ford, a key player in that, declined to vote for or against the final recommendations, saying that he did not want to vote no on the recommendations, but also is not clear on the end results of the legislative process to amend TLE. He said he will be working with many different parties to amend TLE, and he did make it clear that he:
So bear in mind that all of the recommended changes may well not make it through in their current form, although it appears certain that significant changes will occur. Senator Ford's SB 706 currently differs from the recommendation in marked ways, but he indicated he will be visiting with various parties to further craft the bill's language, and a companion bill will be introduced in the House.
So which quantitative measures are endorsed by the Commission?
The Commission recommends having separate quantitative scores only when a high-quality measure is available. The Commission is following Ms. Burk's lead in considering VAMs to be high-quality, but labels the menu of OAM choices as poor-quality with little validity and accepts that while research supports the use of SLO/SOOs in formative assessments (e.g. for use in data teams), there is no strong research base supporting the use of them in teacher evaluations.
those surveys were the subject of considerable controversy this year. Tulsa's TLE leader also noted that while a 5-point scale is appropriate for qualitative ratings, Tulsa's research showed only a 3-point scale (below average, average, and above average) was appropriate for quantitative ratings, and they avoid a composite score, instead having evaluators consider multiple separate scores when data is available.
So far the Commission only says it plans to 'recommend', not mandate, such alternate measures. As your Chief Negotiator, if the Commission does eventually recommend the very expensive and controversial Tripod surveys now being used in Tulsa, I would not support their use in our district.
SLO/SOOs could be eliminated as soon as next week
While most of the recommended changes will require an amendatory law make it through the legislative process, SLO/SOOs are another matter.
The audio record of the meeting revealed that the TLE Commission never recommended the use of SLO/SOOs to the State Board of Education; that requirement did not come from them or from state law, but was imposed by the State Board of Education, and the Commission members were unclear on whether or not the state board knew that the TLE Commission never voted to recommend SLO/SOOs.
So Superintendent Hofmeister plans to ask the State Board of Education, at its 2/26/2015 meeting, to scrap SLO/SOOs. So we might soon be able to forget about that onerous mandate, with OAMs living on until hopefully a state law is passed to get rid of them as well. Bartlesville teachers, in a good faith effort to comply with state law, will then have wasted considerable time and energy on SLO/SOOs. Shame on the state's policy leaders for yet again foisting off on us yet another unfunded mandate, based more on politics than sound research.
It appears certain that the quantitative component of TLE will not be fully implemented until 2017-2018, but what precise form that component will take is now up in the air, with a Commission recommendation that may or may not be fully reflected in the necessary legislation.
Below is the press release on this matter from the State Department of Education:
The February 2015 edition of the BEA Line newsletter is attached to this post.
Words from the Prez:
Have you ever seen such crazy weather? One day the temperature is in the 70’s and the next day it is in the 20’s. The ups and downs in the temperature reminds me of our membership and getting people involved in our association. Sometimes our membership goes up, and our voice gets stronger. Other times, our membership goes down, and our voice becomes weaker.
My point is that people want the benefits without being a member or being involved. Before I
became an officer, I knew literally nothing about our association, local, state or national. It was by becoming involved and people mentoring me that I found out all our association has to offer. We are looking for people to become involved, to voice their opinions and help us be the strong local that we are meant to be.
Soon it will be time to find a president-elect for the next school year. I know people are going to say they don’t have the time, but I found that being an officer is not only rewarding but it didn’t take as much time as I thought. Please consider finding a way to become involved, we would love to have each and every one of you.
New state superintendent Hofmeister, Senator Ford, and other members of the state TLE Commission received a stinging new report on 1/29/2015 about the implementation of the quantitative components of the TLE appraisal system. The report came from statewide focus groups conducted by researchers from the Southern Regional Educational Board (SREB). It was authored in November 2014, but not released publicly until now.
The complete report is attached to this post.
The Tulsa World report quotes Andy Baxter of the SREB:
New state superintendent Hofmeister was quoted as saying:
The report's central recommendation is for Oklahoma to delay the use of quantitative measures for educators’ evaluation scores. Baxter told the commission that would provide time for state leaders to review each of the measures and for educators to better familiarize themselves with them before they are factored into their effectiveness ratings.
The TLE Commission reportedly decided to spend the next month working on recommendations based on the advice from the report authors. It could vote on those at the March commission meeting and then forward them for consideration by the state Board of Education.
Senator Ford has already introduced SB 706 to convert 2014-15 and 2015-16 into pilot years for the quantitative components, with only data collected in 2016-17 becoming 50% of TLE appraisals in 2017-18; his bill also would allow districts to modify the percentage split between Other Academic Measures (OAM) and Value Added Measures (VAM), for the 25% or so of teachers who receive ratings based on state test scores, from the current 15% for OAM and 35% for VAM. His bill retains the mandated split of 15% for OAM and 35% for local teacher-developed Student Learning/Outcome Objectives (SLO/SOO) for the 75% of teachers who do not receive a VAM. This would allow districts to put less weight on VAMs to help compensate for the clear inequities with SLO/SOO.
Our own Senator Ford is a key player in the TLE appraisal system. He is a member of the TLE Commission, which recommends TLE policies to the state board of education to implement the state statutes. He is also the chair of the Senate Education Committee. Senator Ford has filed Senate Bill 706, which would convert the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years into pilot years for the quantitative portions of the TLE, in which 100% of our TLE ratings would still be based on the qualitative rubrics. It appears his bill would require we collect data in 2016-17 which would be used for 50% of our ratings in 2017-2018.
The bill also allows districts to modify the mix of quantitative percentages for teachers in tested grades and subjects, currently split at 35% based on Value Added Measures and 15% on Other Academic Measures, to a different split. However, it does not allow non-tested grades and subjects to alter their percentages from 35% based on Student Learning/Outcome Objectives and 15% on Other Academic Measures. Districts could thus adjust the mix to help alleviate some of the inequities between state-test-based VAMs and teacher-test-based SLOs/SOOs. The bill leaves intact the requirement that eventually 50% of the TLE rating for all teachers must be based on quantitative measures.
The bill also provides an exemption from TLE's quantitative measures for teachers in post-retirement work in a district as well as teachers moving in from a different district to have only qualitative ratings in their TLE. The language is unclear about the duration of that exemption.
A bill is not a law. It has to pass committees in both houses of the legislature to reach the floor of each house, be passed in matching form by both houses, and be signed by the governor. It can be killed or amended throughout that process.
So for now we must proceed under existing state law, which mandates that 2014-2015 data on OAMs becomes 15%, and VAM/SLO/SOO becomes 35%, of the TLE rating in 2015-2016. If the bill becomes law in some form resembling its initial state, our efforts this year and next year would become pilot-year work to help us prepare for 2017-2018, when quantitative measures would take full effect.
These are most welcome changes, and it can't hurt to thank Senator Ford for these potential improvements.
UPDATE: The bill is clearly a reflection of a stinging report on problems with TLE which was authored in November but not released publicly until January 29, 2015.
CONTACT SENATOR FORD:
This bill does NOT fix the fundamental flaws with typing teacher appraisals to student test scores nor the immense amount of wasted time and effort in the additional testing with little real academic impact. The legislature needs to get out of the business of mandating new standards and basing appraisals on test scores. The new state superintendent was elected on a platform of reducing testing in Oklahoma; we shall see if that carries over into legislative changes. However, she has said nothing of substance yet about teacher appraisal. For now we are stuck with little support, many meaningless mandates, and a toxic school testing and appraisal environment. But at least reality is beginning to seep in!
Granger Meador, BEA Chief Negotiator
The January 2015 edition of the BEA Line is attached to this post.
What a New Year! There have been a plethora of bowl games, and people making resolutions that could improve their lives. I saw a commercial on TV over the break that was sponsored by a cereal that is supposed to help lose weight. In the commercial people were in Times Square and they were ask to stand on a scale. This ended up not being a normal scale but a
scale that showed what you had to “gain” by keeping their resolution of losing weight. When the participants stepped on the scale, instead of seeing their weight, they were given a word, such as confidence, joy, fortitude, etc. That gave them encouragement to pursue their resolution.
When I step on the scale, I would like to see the word PRIDE displayed. Pride in my student’s work, pride in my work, pride in our education association and pride in the life that I lead. If you stepped on the scale what word would you want to see displayed?
On another note, a new state representative, Travis Dunlap, was elected this past November. He has agreed to come visit my classroom on Thursday, January 22 to get a better picture of
education and the struggles that teachers face. If you have any questions or concerns that you would like for me to present to him, please email me at email@example.com. Hopefully he will help us make a difference in education.
I hope that you have a wonderful New Year and see wonderful results to any resolutions that you have made.
Student Academic Growth Portion of TLE is UNFAIR and INEQUITABLEIn a short video with clear and helpful graphics, the TLE Coordinator at Moore Public Schools, the district's superintendent, and a site principal outline the significant and troubling problems with the Student Academic Growth portion of the TLE appraisal system:
But We Must Comply
However, despite its obvious failings, implementation of the new and flawed Student Academic Growth section of TLE is mandated by state law as implemented by the State Board of Education. So Bartlesville, like other districts, is moving forward with VAM training and SLO/SOO training and development.
One of the few protections teachers receiving a VAM have is for site principals to carefully scrutinize the SLO/SOO proposals to ensure they are rigorous and attainable. The catch is that the SLO/SOO process is now rushed, due to lengthy delays in the rollout from the TLE Commission and the state department of education. Teachers are being forced to rapidly develop and deploy new assessments on top of the already excessive testing mandated by federal, state, and local policies. So teachers and principals are under tremendous pressure to water down SLOs/SOOs to avoid sabotaging themselves with this new, burdensome, and untried procedure.
Bartlesville's Senator Ford is a leader of TLE, serving on the TLE Commission, so local teachers are urged to reach out to both him and Representative Sears and point out the problems with the new Student Academic Growth portion of TLE and why they should be suspended or scrapped.
UPDATE: Senator Ford has introduced Senate Bill 706 to delay implementation of the quantitative portions of TLE until 2017-2018.
An Example of the Hardball the State Department of Education Plays
Our district's recent experience with the other quantitative portion of TLE, Other Academic Measures, is instructive. All teachers statewide were forced to adopt pilot OAMs in 2013-2014, and the reading and math goals our district created were designed to protect teachers from the arbitrary shifts in state testing cutoffs and state-issued site and district report cards by comparing our performance to the statewide indices that would subjected to the same annual manipulations.
But then the legislature arbitrarily eliminated district report cards, invalidating many of our pilot year goals. Far worse, the state department of education failed to release a state report card when it released the latest version of the site report cards (which respected researchers said were misleading and invalid). Our repeated requests to the state department of education for the needed indices to evaluate our pilot year goals yielded no data.
So our district could not complete a pilot-year OAM report in October, and continued to receive no information from the state department to evaluate our goals. We had to pick new OAMs in October without any feedback on how the pilot-year goals went, except that the state legislature and department of education had sabotaged all of them.
In December the state department of education surprised our district with a threat to recommend to the state board of education that our district's state aid be suspended because we had not filed the OAM report. We re-iterated that it was impossible to do so without the state report card which they had clearly suppressed.
Finally, with the threat of a vote in a couple of days by the state board of education to deny our state funding, Dr. Barresi herself had to authorize the release of the state report card to our district so we could evaluate almost 450 pilot-year goals. Mr. Meador, the BEA Chief Negotiator who devised the pilot-year goals, hurriedly calculated their results so that Ms. Martinez and Mr. McCauley at the ESC could quickly complete the state report and file it, preventing us from losing millions of dollars in state funding.
Will things improve?
Sadly, this sort of abusive and unprofessional behavior became the norm during the tenure of State Superintendent Barresi. Joy Hofmeister, the Republican who won the election for state superintendent, will take office on Monday, January 12, 2015. We can hope that she will move quickly to begin repairing some of the damage from the Barresi administration. But she cannot ignore adopted state board of education policies nor state law. The flawed and inequitable Student Academic Growth section of TLE cannot be stopped, for now, without new legislation passed by both houses of the legislature and sent to the governor.
The December 2014 edition of the BEA Line newsletter is attached to this post.
Can you believe that it is already December? Christmas is just around the corner and a new year is almost here! This is the time of year when people are counting their blessings, giving
thanks and wanting to help those in need. Knowing that it made me think of different tragedies that families have been faced with in the past week and it brought to mind the very recent passing of former school board member, Barry Lowe.
Many of us know that he fought his illness long, hard and with great courage and strength. While some educators did not always agree with his ideas or philosophies, we knew that his
heart was with the children, especially those that are less fortunate than others, and he always wanted to help them. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family in their time of
sorrow. Mr. Lowe was a wonderful man with a great heart, who always wanted to do what he could to help children and education.
I hope that you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Kelli Bryant, BEA President