Even though the state Senate already killed a teacher evaluation bill by an overwhelming vote, Republican Sen. Andy Hill introduced yet another evaluation bill Monday – with no advance notice.
Hill, chairman of the Senate budget committee, also gave the bill a hearing in his committee Monday afternoon. And over the weekend, legislators introduced a similar bill in the House (House Bill 2800).
Hill’s Senate bill is even worse than earlier proposals, including the one the Senate defeated. His bill, Senate Bill 5880, would require the use of state tests in teacher evaluations beginning next school year, and would remain in effect regardless of whether Washington’s No Child Left Behind waiver is extended.
Teachers oppose mandating the use of state test scores in teacher evaluations and are urging legislators to vote no on SB 5880 and HB 2800.
Here’s an excerpt from WEA Lobbyist Lucinda Young’s testimony in opposition to SB 5880:
“Next fall Washington administers a brand new state test. Aside from the fact that no one has seen the test, and we don’t know if it will be valid and reliable and have no cultural bias, it cannot measure student growth in the same year that it’s administered and may not measure absolute student growth at all.
“There is no substantiated research that links standardized state tests with teacher quality. We shouldn’t pretend that it does. Therefore it cannot be used as a valid approach to measure teacher effectiveness. It seems illogical to use a brand new test built on standards that not all school districts have fully introduced to determine whether or not a teacher is improving his/her practice.
“Additionally, this test is offered once a year, is summative not diagnostic, and scores are returned in the late summer. Long after students have left and moved to their next classroom. This bill mandates the use of a test that has not and will never have growth data. Educators understand what that means and remain adamantly opposed.”
On Thursday, March 6, hundreds of WEA members are traveling to Olympia to meet with their legislators about the two bills.
COLA, class size and school construction
WEA members are urging the state House to fund the educator COLA in its supplemental budget, which may come up for a vote this week. The House has proposed restoring the COLA, but in separate legislation tied to new revenue generated by closing tax loopholes. Several teachers from the Ridgefield Education Association took leave Monday and visited with their legislators about the COLA.
“I’m making less than I was several years ago. I’m a single mom and I have two daughters, and it’s hard to make ends meet,” said Bobbe Whetsell, a South Ridge Elementary music teacher.
“Our cost of living keeps rising but our paychecks haven’t. It’s not easy for me to make it from month to month,” Tammy Burggraff, a teacher at Union Ridge Elementary.
WEA also supports a House budget proposal to increase school construction $700 million by bonding against lottery revenue, a plan sponsored by Rep. Hans Dunshee and Rep. Drew MacEwen.
“We’re running out of places to put our kids,” said Pam Kruse, a Franklin Pierce teacher who spoke at a news conference last week. “We have over 10 portables at every school. We’re in portable city.”
Unfortunately, the House budget plan funds early learning, materials and supplies instead of reducing class size — offering no relief to students and educators working in the 47th most overcrowded classrooms in the nation.