PREP Act Changes Gain Support of the Alabama Association of School Boards
UPDATE: On the evening of April 12, Sen. Marsh said he is shelving the PREP Act for this session.
Big news today, folks.
Education groups fought hard against lawmakers’ use of a “growth model” in teacher evaluations and of the use of those evaluations in reduction-in-force (RIF) decisions.
The latest version of the PREP Act removed those provisions.
Those changes convinced the Alabama Association of School Boards to support this latest version of Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh’s (R-Anniston) PREP Act.
The AASB said today:
A new, improved substitute to SB 316 has won the endorsement of the Alabama Association of School Boards. “Due to the hard work of many in the education community and the willingness of Sen. Del Marsh to address education leaders’ concerns, AASB has withdrawn its opposition to SB316,” said Sally Smith, AASB Executive Director.
School boards have consistently supported the tenure revisions in the legislation but found other components objectionable, Smith explained. “Until now, the bad outweighed the good. School boards are relieved that a compromise could be found because we did not want to miss this opportunity for meaningful reform.”
“Lengthening the probationary period for teachers to earn tenure and linking continued tenure to effective performance will give school leaders another tool to ensure that we retain the most qualified and effective professionals,” she said. “Eliminating tenure for support workers will help us manage school business more effectively and efficiently.”
Smith noted that no piece of legislation is ever perfect, but praised the Senate pro tem and his team for their persistence and commitment.
“We are pleased that this is not an opportunity lost…. the process has worked and we can support PREP.”
Smith encouraged all to read the revised legislation with a fresh perspective. “This bill balances the interests of various stakeholders while permitting flexibility.”
The PREP Act has changed numerous times since we published the draft last December.
Sen. Marsh and various education groups, including the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE), have worked together since that time to make changes to the bill to make the bill better.
Trust is hard-won among the education community in Alabama, and any effort by the legislature is questioned. Many remember the passage of the Alabama Accountability Act in 2013 and have held grudges since that time.
In an interview on Wednesday, Marsh acknowledged that the process to get the PREP Act has been much harder, but he is confident the results of all of the collaborative efforts will improve educational outcomes for children in Alabama.
The latest version, expected to be introduced on the Senate floor next Tuesday, changes a few things from the last-published draft, including:
- The bill uses a four-level scale on which teacher evaluations will be defined, including: Ineffective, Developing, Effective, and Exemplary. Until the ALSDE defines those levels, the local district’s definitions will be used.
- 25% of the evaluation will be based on growth as measured by student achievement.
- The definition for student growth model has been removed from the bill.
- Student growth must be based in part on test scores, and half of the growth measure must be based on either the ACT Aspire or ACT college entrance exam unless a school district has received a waiver from the ALSDE to use a test other than the ACT Aspire.
- Additional measures can include student learning objectives and other measures chosen by the ALSDE.
- Student achievement and growth for non-state-assessed subjects will be based on student learning objectives from an ALSDE-approved list.
- Surveys from students in grades three through twelve will be included, though no percentage is specified in the bill, meaning that will be left up to local districts.
- While choosing a method of measuring student achievement and student growth will be left to the ALSDE, that method must be chosen by October 1, 2016, and reported to the state board of education.
There is no doubt that multiple versions of this bill have caused confusion. And legislative language can be confusing. Look for a full “book report” this weekend.
To be clear, the bill does not in any way tie teacher pay to student test scores.
Tenure will be granted after five years, rather than three. Teachers must earn a score of effective or exemplary in the final three years in order to obtain tenure.
Tenure can be revoked if a teacher earns two years of ineffective ratings consecutively, though revocation is not mandatory. Teachers could be offered “intensive professional development” instead.
Update: 1:57 p.m. This article was updated to correct the bullet point that said the ACT or ACT Aspire was a required component of the growth measure. A school district can use a different measure if it has received a waiver from the ALSDE. We regret the error.