Governor Henry has signed Senate Bill 2033 into law. This is the 'performance pay' bill that was initially rejected by the House earlier this week, and is cosponsored by our own Senator Ford and distinct from another pay plan that was promoted by Representative Sears but did not go to the Governor.
This bill was inspired by the Obama administration's "Race to the Top" incentive program. The OEA has stated that it supports SB 2033 in its current form, but the BEA did not endorse it, as it abrogates multiple aspects of our negotiated agreement.
Here are some significant changes made in this bill:
NEW EVALUATION SYSTEM BY 2013-2014
The law requires development of a new statewide evaluation system for both teachers and administrators by December 2011. Our existing negotiated agreement can trump this new system for awhile, but the new system must become the basis of our local evaluation system no later than the 2013-2014 school year. Called "TLE" for "Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Evaluation System", it has five ratings: superior, highly effective, effective, needs improvement, and ineffective. 35% of the assessment must be based on "student academic growth using multiple years of standardized test data, as available" and when there is no state-mandated testing measure for a teacher they must use "objective measures of teacher effectiveness including student performance on unit or end-of-year tests". Another 15% of the assessment comes from "other academic measurements", and the remaining 50% from "an evidence-based qualitative assessment tool" that for teachers includes "organizational and classroom management skills, ability to provide effective instruction, focus on continuous improvement and professional growth, interpersonal skills, and leadership skills."
REDEFINING CAREER TEACHER
The definition of "career teacher" is changed so that anyone hired after July 1, 2012 has to complete three years in a district AND achieved a 'superior' rating on the TLE for 2 of the 3 years, with no ratings below 'effective' OR achieved 'effective' or higher over four years OR by explicit approval of that status by the principal, superintendent, and local board of education. Otherwise they remain as 'probationary teachers'.
Probationary teachers who do not attain career teacher status within a 4-year period will be fired. Teachers or administrators who are rated 'ineffective' on the TLE for 2 consecutive years will be fired. Career teachers who are rated 'needs improvement' or lower on the TLE for 3 consecutive years will be fired. Career teachers who do not average 'effective' or higher on the TLE over a 5-year period will be fired. Probationary teachers who are rated 'ineffective' on the TLE for 2 consecutive years will be fired.
REDUCTION IN FORCE BASED ON TLE RATINGS
The primary basis used in determining the retention or reassignment of affected teachers and administrators when a school district implements a reduction-in-force (RIF) plan shall be the ratings of the teachers and administrators on the new Oklahoma Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Evaluation System (TLE). Our current negotiated agreement says a RIF will be based first on seniority, then experience, and then the performance appraisals. So once we transition to the TLE system, performance appraisal ratings will be forced to the top of that list.
TRIAL DE NOVO CHANGES
The law says teachers will be compensated for up to 63 days after a trial de novo petition is made, but loses compensation if he or she takes actions or makes motions which delay the trial judgement beyond that timeframe without the consent of the board of education. It also painstakingly works through various other combinations of delays beyond 63 days and whether or not the teacher is compensated.
The law requires the State Board to align its Language Arts and Mathematics curriculum with the 'K-12 Common Core State Standards' from the 'Common Core State Standards Initiative' of the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers.
Persistently low-performing schools will have to do one of the following:
a) replace the principal and 50% or more of the staff
b) convert to a charter school
d) replace the principal and implement strategies to develop and increase teacher/principal effectiveness, comprehensive instructional reform, increase learning time and create a community-oriented school, and provide operational flexibility and sustained support
The law continues to require the state to make available five model merit pay plans and authorizes plans beginning in 2012-13 for teachers "who are increasing student and school growth in achievement" by being rated either 'superior' or 'highly effective' on the TLE and having "grade level/subject area/school level performance success".