Friday, July 24, 2009

A House Divided Against Itself

What will the California Teachers Association say about this?

States barring the use of student- achievement data to help set teacher pay would be ineligible for $4.35 billion in education stimulus funds under draft guidelines the Obama administration plans to announce today.

The proposal, e-mailed yesterday by the Education Department, would disqualify states such as California, New York and Wisconsin from applying for the grants unless they change rules excluding student-performance data from evaluations of teachers and principals.

President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who have long pressed for merit-pay programs that reward teachers for gains in student performance, plan to announce the draft guidelines today. The nation’s largest teachers’ unions oppose linking pay to pupil achievement, saying test scores aren’t an accurate measure of teacher effectiveness.

Linking teacher pay to student standardized test scores is expressly prohibited under California Ed Code, Section 44662(e), which states:

The evaluation and assessment of certificated employee performance pursuant to this section shall not include the use of publishers' norms established by standardized tests.

So what will happen here? Will the California legislature attempt to change this section of law in order to get a couple billion from the feds? How strongly will the CTA fight this--and fight President Obama on this? If the legislature overturns this section, will CTA obstruct implementation or work to ensure that it is completely defanged?

How will the CTA look when it fights the President over this?

Hat tip to NewsAlert.

Update, 7/26/09: EIA addressed this issue here:

We’re getting a lot of coverage of the goals and not much about how it’s going to happen. EVERYBODY has noticed that the teachers’ unions are going to find a lot of objectionable stuff in these regs. NOBODY is spending time to figure out what that will mean. Here’s a guess: The unions will first work to water down the regs, but Obama and Duncan will still get most of what they want. Then the districts and the unions will take the money, and four years from now, just like magic, everything will be exactly the same as it is now.


maxutils said...

Why does it matter who proposed this? Linking teacher pay to student performance is an incredibly bad idea. In a perfect world, students would all be equal inputs from grade to grade, and would be inspired b demanding teachers. In reality, however, students are promoted without any measure of accountability. I can't successfully teach algebra 2 to people who don't know their times tables, or who can't add fractions. And, if I'm demanding, my students may rebel against me. When given a test that has no impact on their grade, but does have an impact on their salary, they know exactly what to do.

I am absolutely, 100% in favor of merit pay -- BUT, it can't be based solely, or even primarily, on test scores. It should be based upon how well one does his job, regardless of the level of his students. And, if that means doing more observations . . .well so be it, VPs.

maxutils said...

impact on the teacher's salary, I meant to say.

Micha Elyi said...

I've long believed that the teacher union strategy of stonewalling merit pay proposals is a mistake in the long run. Such a strategy only energizes more people each year to become opponents of teacher unions and, by association, the teachers themselves.

Instead, were I a teacher union boss I'd say sure, let's have merit pay but only as long as it is fair to all teachers; that is, nobody becomes eligible for merit pay until everybody is eligible for it. Maybe I'm way off base but I'm confident a sly teacher union could rig the system so merit pay could never be implemented "fairly" and, as a bonus, all the blame for the delays could be heaped upon school administrators.

How many classes of, say, 30 students, I'd ask, in a given subject (or classroom, for Pre-K to 6th grade teachers) with a given curriculum in use must be measured before a statistically valid sample at the 95% confidence level is obtained? Take into account, of course, all the usual sample stratifications that are known to affect student performance, e.g. ethnicity, sex, marital status of parents, and household income.

A teacher's assigment changes? Uh oh, all the past measures in the different assignment must be thrown out. The curriculum changed? The assessments with the old one no longer count. Over the years the profile of the school's student population changed? Again, throw out the old data and start over with newly collected data.

Played this way, even a minimally competent teacher union boss could likely hold off merit pay forever.