The second draft of a bill attributed to Sen. Del Marsh (R-Anniston) calls for historic and unprecedented changes in the way teachers are evaluated and compensated in Alabama. It also outlines changes to the way tenure is earned, and provides a mechanism for tenure to be revoked.
The 49-page bill, dubbed the Rewarding Advancement in Instruction and Student Excellence (RAISE) Act of 2016, has been circulating for weeks, and only a couple of changes were made from the first to the second draft.
In recent interviews, Marsh has stayed away from the details, simply calling the bill “historic education legislation” and saying that though it is a “big commitment”, it is “worth pursuing”.
The RAISE Act affects a number of areas in the educator universe, including:
(1) Tying student achievement to teacher, principal, and assistant principal evaluations, including Teach for America teachers. Alabama is currently only one of six states that does not tie student achievement to teacher evaluations.
(2) Increasing the number of years to attain tenure from three to five years, providing conditions for revoking tenure, and mandating a minimum performance effectiveness rating of 3.0 to attain tenure for new hires. Only six states currently require five years to obtain tenure. Twenty-three states consider student achievement in some way regarding tenure decisions.
(3) Evaluations and ratings of teacher effectiveness take first priority when considering staff changes. Nineteen states require performance to be considered in making layoff decisions.
(4) Creates a performance pay schedule for teachers who opt in. Sixteen states currently offer additional pay based on performance.
The bill also creates the Alabama Longitudinal Data System Center and the LDS Center Commission, but that topic will be covered in a separate article.
What follows is based on the second draft, dated December
21 18, 2015. It is expected it will change again before being filed some time after the session starts.
Much of the language below comes directly from the bill. In an effort not to crowd the page with quotations and italics, it may be less than clear which is which. Please refer to the bill if you have any questions.
Definitions of Key Terms
These two definitions come directly from the bill.
Student achievement growth – the change in achievement for an individual student between two or more points in time, based on standards-based measures that are valid, rigorous, and comparable across classrooms of similar content and levels.
Student growth model – a statistical growth model used to isolate the effect and impact of a teacher on student learning, controlling for preexisting characteristics of a student including, but not limited to, prior achievement. The growth model will be developed by the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) in conjunction with a third party vendor, selected in accordance with the request for proposal process. The model will ensure that “teachers are measured according to the value they add to student growth”.
Beginning with the 2017-2018 school year, all teachers will be evaluated annually pursuant to the RAISE Act.
The following pieces must be a part of the evaluation system:
Observations shall be conducted twice per school year:
School principal or assistant principal will do the first.
Second observation will be done by trained observer.
Observations can be unannounced or announced.
At least one will require the observer to observe the entire lesson for the classroom period.
A clear and consistent rubric will be provided to the teacher prior to the beginning of the school year.
Multiple fair, transparent, timely, rigorous and valid elements reflecting best practices of teaching and learning for engaging and motivating students to excel academically will be included.
Methods of feedback from evaluators that allow a teacher meaningful opportunity to improve his or her effectiveness
Year-end teacher evaluation scores (also called the “summative evaluation“) will be based on student growth on the ACT Aspire, parent and student surveys, and additional measures, including:
Student academic growth for teachers in state-assessed subject areas will account for the following percentages of a teacher’s summative evaluation:
1st two years – 30%
2nd two years -35%
Fifth year (2021-2022) and thereafter – 40%
To measure student academic growth for teachers in non-state assessed subject areas, if standardized test data is available, they will use that data. Otherwise, the ALSDE will develop a list of preapproved options to measure student growth. The board will choose from the list of preapproved options. The same percentages apply.
Additional measures will account for 55% (years 1 and 2), 50% (years 3 and 4), and 45% (years 5 and after).
Those additional measures will be correlated with impacts on student achievement results, but for a teacher in the first two years of his or her career, best practices of teaching and learning for engaging and motivating students to excel academically will be used.
45% of the total of additional measures will be based on classroom observations.
Parent and student surveys will be equally weighted and count for 15% of total score.
The ALSDE will develop an evaluation for local boards of education to use, but local boards of education can develop their own evaluations as long as they include the pieces mandated by law and are approved by the ALSDE.
Ratings of effectiveness will result from summative performance evaluations and will be one of the following:
Significantly below expectations
Significantly above expectations
Within the definition of each level of effectiveness above, 45% will be based on percentage of students who achieve appropriate growth based on expectations from achievement data.
The most recent three consecutive years of student growth and assessment data will be used to determine that growth. If a teacher doesn’t yet have three years of data, whatever data is available will be used.
Teachers rated “significantly below expectations” can be reimbursed up to $1,000 for professional development aligned with his or her annual evaluation.
Evaluations will be used in the following ways:
To determine differentiated pay, retention, promotion, dismissals, and other staffing decisions, including transfers, placements, and preferences, and order of dismissal in reductions-in-force.
To provide high quality, job-embedded, and ongoing mentoring, support, and professional development for teachers.
Differentiated pay scales may be developed for high demand subject areas, hard-to-staff assignments and effective collaboration among teachers.
Principal/Assistant Principal Evaluation
Evaluations for principals and assistant principals will include “multiple fair, transparent, timely, rigorous, and valid standards of quality leadership and performance”. The ALSDE will determine those measures but may include
Standards for strategic and managerial leadership, instructional leadership, school cultural and equity leadership and external development leadership related to family and community outreach.
Achievement and academic growth for students in their school.
The number and percentage of certified personnel rated in each category of effectiveness.
Percentages of evaluations for principals and assistant principals that will be based on evidence of growth in student achievement are as follows:
1st two years: 30%
3rd and 4th years: 35%
5th year and after: 45%
Salary Schedules, Adjustments and Supplements
Two salary schedules will co-exist: the grandfathered salary schedule and the performance salary schedule.
Within 120 days of the effective date of the act, local boards of education must adopt a base salary schedule, referred to as a “grandfathered salary schedule”, for all teachers hired before May 1, 2017.
The grandfathered salary schedule will be based on the “then current school year” and can include no more than a 5% cost-of-living adjustment.
Teachers hired before May 1, 2017, can opt in to the performance salary schedule, but must make that decision prior to May 1, 2019.
Once a teacher opts in, they can’t go back to the grandfathered salary schedule.
A performance salary schedule must be adopted by each board of education by May 1, 2017.
First-year teachers opting in to the performance salary schedule will be paid $2,500 more than the lowest paid first year teacher on the State Minimum Salary Schedule.
Teachers paid from the performance salary schedule must be provided additional annual salary adjustments and supplements if they are rated “exceeds expectations” or “significantly exceeds expectations”.
The performance salary schedule must permit additional pay for National Board Certification.
Salary adjustments can be no more than 10% of the lowest base salary of the grandfathered pay scale. [This amounts to not more than $3,686.70 based on the lowest base salary ($36,867) on the FY16 State Minimum Salary Schedule.]
Additional supplements will be provided to teachers rated “exceeds expectations” or “significantly exceeds expectations” who:
Teach in a Title I eligible school,
Teach in a school in restructuring or reconstitution status as determined by the ALSDE,
Teach (and are certified in) a grade, subject or class with critical shortages as determined by the local board, or
Are assigned additional academic or leadership responsibilities.
Neither adjustments nor supplements can be provided to any teacher who is rated “below expectations” or “significantly below expectations”.
Advanced degrees: For teachers hired after May 1, 2017, pay will not change if the teacher earns an advanced degree after that date. Whatever degree the teacher has as of the hire date establishes his or her place on the base salary schedule.
Additional years of service: For teachers hired after May 1, 2017, pay will not change based on the number of years of service.
Tenure (obtained under the Students First Act of 2011) can be revoked if the teacher receives two consecutive significantly below expectations performance ratings. The teacher can begin to earn tenure again upon revocation.
Tenure will only be given to teachers earning an average rating of 3.0 or higher.
Tenure will be obtained upon the completion of five complete, consecutive school years of full-time employment as a teacher with the same employer unless the teacher is notified in writing of his or her termination on or before the last of the teacher’s fifth consecutive year.
Tenure is not available for support personnel hired for the first time to a position in a school or school district after May 1, 2017.
If a teacher hired before May 1, 2017, has earned tenure under the Students First Act of 2011, they forfeit that tenure when they opt in to the performance salary schedule.
If a teacher hired before May 1, 2017, has not yet earned tenure, they forfeit the right to earn tenure under the Students First Act of 2011 when they opt in to the performance salary schedule.
Other Important Points
A “rewards to school” initiative will allow additional funds to go to schools demonstrating incremental student growth.
The ALSDE must report the following on its web site:
Number of teachers rated at each performance level by school
Data for teacher preparation programs in the state
Achievement data for individual students, aggregated in accordance with FERPA
Additional money needed for paying teachers through the performance salary schedule shall be appropriated through a line item appropriation by the Legislature.
Lots of Questions
No fiscal note showing where money is coming from to fund adjustments and salaries was provided with the draft bill I received.
A spokesperson for Sen. Marsh was unavailable to comment for today’s article. Any response received will be reported here.
The Full 49-Page Draft Bill
[This article was updated at 6:30 p.m., 12/29/15 to clarify that much of the language about the bill came directly from the bill itself.
Updated at 9:30 p.m., 1/13/16 to correct the date of the draft bill from December 21 to December 18. We regret the error.]