Posts Tagged ‘K-12 education legislation’

Minnesota Education Legislation Would Evaluate Teachers Based on Student’s Test Scores, Other Factors

Minnesota lawmaker’s proposed legislation would rate teachers, K-12, based on the failure or success of their students.  The proposed legislation would affect teacher’s tenure, limit growth for new teachers and create tension within Minnesota schools.

The Legislation: Changing the Face of Minnesota Education

The proposed education legislation begins by entering school districts throughout Minnesota.  School districts would start by using student testing growth, parent surveys and administration evaluations.  These tools will help the state evaluate teachers on a new assessment scale.

The legislation requires Minnesota school districts to test teachers on five specific job ratings.  Once this data is gathered, it is kept confidential by the school district.  High rated teachers will receive bonuses or higher benefits.  Low rated teachers will be demoted or fired.

Minnesota legislators, Republican and Democrat, created the framework for the legislation.  The Republican’s proposal is more dramatic and includes many potential changes.  Minnesota Democrats, including Gov. Mark Dayton,  agree there is a need for new teacher evaluation, but have a softer proposal.

The education proposal was initially sponsored by Branden Petersen, R-Andover, Minn.  Petersen’s proposal includes ending the teacher tenure system.  The tenure system would be replaced with teachers signing five-year contracts.  In addition, Petersen’s proposal requires 40 to 50 percent of teacher evaluations to be based on statewide student testing.

Democrats agree there is a need for a K-12 teacher evaluation system, however they disagree with Petersen’s proposal. Kathy Brynaert, D-Mankato, Minn., developed an alternative legislation that excludes student test scores from teacher evaluation.  Brynaert’s proposal assures that teachers will not be “teaching for the test”.

Minnesota Teachers: Evaluation and Accountability

Teacher evaluation is necessary in any education system.  Currently, Minnesota teachers face limited performance reviews.  The lack of evaluation allows inadequate teachers to gain tenure in schools throughout Minnesota.

Minnesota Education Commissioner, Brenda Cassellius, is developing additional evaluation standards for the state.  Inserting alternative teacher evaluation criterion may slow the development of potential legislation.  Potential criterion includes:

  • Requiring intensive training for evaluators
  • Creation of a three-year teacher  evaluation cycle that includes teacher growth plans, teacher learning communities and a peer review process
  • Allowing teachers to present professional work portfolios to show occupational growth
  • Mentoring evaluators during the introduction process

Minnesota’s Department of Education is avoiding test score teacher evaluation at all costs.  To prevent potential legislation to further, the Department of Education will restructure their teacher accountability and evaluation standards

Minnesota Students: The Association of Tests Scores and Their Environment

Minnesota K-12 students are required to take the MCA tests throughout their education.  The MCA tests students on their reading, mathematics and science abilities.  The MCA tests also measures student’s annual growth.

The proposed education legislation supports teacher evaluation based on student MCA scores.  However, many Minnesota teachers contest that student environment, outside of school, is a main contributor to low MCA scores. Certain environmental factors include:

  • Increased poverty in urban cities
  • Parent accountability
  • Decreased study space
  • Abuse
  • High divorce rates
  • Frequently moving students

Minnesota teachers believe parents must be held accountable for their children’s success or failure.  The current education proposal does not mention parent accountability as a factor of low student test scores.

Minnesota Citizens: A Mixed Review

Teacher evaluation and low student test scores are both hot stove topics concerning Minnesota’s education.  However, Minnesotans across the state reacted differently to the proposal of teacher evaluations based on student test scores.

“Students have a carefree attitude when they take tests.  They want to finish as soon as possible so they can go outside for recess.  They don’t realize the repercussions of a bad test score.  They just want to play,”  St. Peter Middle School teacher Jake Malz said.

Many citizens believe reform is necessary in school districts throughout the state.  Multiple citizens stressed the importance of yearly teacher evaluations.

“The evaluation of teachers is awful right now,” Petersen proposal supporter Scott Hoffman said.  “Almost every profession is evaluated on an annual basis.  Teacher evaluations should be more strict because they mold our youth and our future.”

Many Minnesota teachers agree with teacher evaluation reform.  However, they are strongly against Petersen’s proposal of test scores determining tenure and salary.

“I should be able to determine the future of my career, not a fourth grader.  Tenure affects where I plan on raising a family and where I buy a home.  Five-year contracts don’t provide career stability,”  Carver Elementary teacher Kristin Bauer said.

Final Decision: Governor Mark Dayton

The future of Petersen’s legislation lies in the hands of Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton.  Dayton, a democrat, alluded to teacher evaluation reform in his seven-point education plan.  The plan includes increased funding for K-12 programs, alternative teacher license programs and better testing.

Dayton has the option of vetoing any proposed legislation.  He will likely use that power on Petersen’s proposal because his stance on teacher evaluation differs.  Dayton believes teacher reform is necessary but is more concerned with Minnesota’s current budget situation.

The first provision of Petersen’s legislation was approved by the House of Representatives.  For the legislation to get to Dayton’s desk, it must be approved in the Minnesota Senate.

Minnesotans will need to wait to find out about potential progress of the proposed legislation.

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Related Links

Minnesota Department of Education
Education Minnesota
Petersen’s proposed legislation
Star Tribune: Ratings could end tenure for Minnesota’s teachers
CBS Minnesota: Minn. Lawmaker’s Proposal Puts Teachers To The Test

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