Having lost track of how many versions there are, one thing is clear: Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) is working hard to collaborate with education groups in Montgomery to get the bill into a form that they will support.
Insiders say this level of collaboration is unusual. And refreshing.
This is the version that the AASB said they support.
This is the version that Alabama Teacher of the Year Jennifer Brown says she still does not support.
This version is expected to be considered on the floor of the Senate some time this week.
This version appropriates $18 million total for three incentive and reward programs, though it’s unclear where that money has been appropriated in the version of Education Trust Fund budget being considered in the Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee Tuesday morning.
Forget what you thought you knew about the PREP Act. Start reading.
Student achievement – Academic performance based on standards-based measures that are valid, rigorous, and comparable across classrooms of similar content, levels, and status as a state assessed or nonstate assessed subject.
Student growth – The change in achievement for an individual student between two or more points in time as approved by the State Board of Education.
Before the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) must develop and implement a method for measuring achievement and growth to make sure “teachers are evaluated according to the impact they have on student achievement and student growth in the classroom or school”.
Beginning with the 2017-2018 school year, all nontenured teachers will be evaluated annually while tenured teachers must be evaluated at least every other year.
If a tenured teacher receives a rating of “ineffective”, that teacher must be evaluated to two consecutive annual evaluations immediately thereafter and a if to consecutive ratings of ineffective are received, the tenured teacher can be subject to personnel action.
A default evaluation system, developed by the ALSDE, will be the evaluation system used by local school districts unless a school district has developed and obtained approval from the ALSDE to use their own model.
A local district can “revise or adapt policies” within that default system as long as it is consistent with the law.
If a local school district proposes to evaluate teachers by a method other than what the ALSDE develops, the ALSDE must approve that method. The ALSDE then has 30 days to deny a local district’s local proposal. If the ALSDE doesn’t deny it within 30 days, it is automatically approved.
Achievement and Growth in the Teacher Evaluation
Student achievement and student growth must count for 25% of the total year-end teacher evaluation scores.
Achievement and growth must be calculated from a standardized assessment. The ALSDE must choose a method of measuring student achievement before October 1, 2016.
Currently, the state-adopted standardized test is the ACT Aspire for grades three through eight and again in tenth grade, and the ACT with writing for the eleventh grade.
Unless the ALSDE adopts a different standardized test measure, AND unless the district receives a waiver from administering the ACT Aspire and/or the ACT, results from the ACT Aspire and/or the ACT must be used.
Other measures can be used, but districts must first obtain approval from the ALSDE to use them. Those other measures can be ones developed at the local level, standardized benchmark assessments used in the district, or student learning objectives.
Whatever the state-approved test is for that district, those results must count for half of that calculation.
For nonstate assessed subjects, student achievement and growth will be based on student learning objectives from the ALSDE-developed list of options for local districts to use.
Three years of achievement and growth data will be used in a teacher’s evaluation. If three years of data aren’t available, the evaluation will be based on all available achievement and growth data for the teacher.
The Other 75% of the Evaluation
The other 75% of a teacher’s evaluation must contain the following components, though no strict percentages for each piece are mandated:
Two observations per school year, with one conducted by the school principal, assistant principal, or whomever they designate. The total amount of time spent observing a teacher during a school year must be at least 60 minutes. Evaluators must have “a full understanding of the evaluation system and its expectations for teachers and evaluators”.
“Students surveys from students in grades three and above.”
“A professional growth plan and evidence of professional learning.”
“A focus on collaboration among colleagues and work performed by a teacher beyond the classroom that has a positive impact in the overall culture of the classroom, school, or school district, or any combination of these.”
“Additional measures of performance correlated with impacts on student achievement and student growth results or best practices of teaching and learning for engaging and motivating students to excel academically. Additional measures of performance shall comprise the remaining percentage of total year-end teacher evaluation scores.”
“Methods of feedback from evaluators during a post-observation conference that allow a teacher meaningful opportunity to improve his or her effectiveness and receive recommendations on targeted professional development, as needed.”
Based on year-end evaluation scores, each teacher will receive an effectiveness rating: Ineffective, Developing, Effective, and Exemplary. Until the ALSDE defines each level, each school district can “establish and implement temporary definitions for each level”.
Teacher effectiveness ratings will be published on the ALSDE’s web site. Those ratings will be aggregated at the state level.
School districts that do not “promptly comply” with the requirement to “collect and publicly report on its website school report cards for all schools” will be required to publicly report teacher effectiveness ratings for the district, aggregated at the district level.
Teachers rated “developing” or “ineffective” must be provided professional development aligned with his or her annual evaluation. The ALSDE must reimburse a school district a maximum of $500 per teacher after being provided certification of the number of teachers who received one of those ratings.
The bill requires local districts to offer professional development to teachers targeted to the needs of each teacher based on the teacher’s evaluation.
Evaluations for Principals and Assistant Principals
Evaluations for principals and assistant principals will include “multiple fair, transparent, timely, rigorous, and valid standards of quality leadership and performance”.
A minimum of 25% of the total year-end evaluation score for principals and assistant principals must be based on achievement and growth for students in their school.
A Professional Growth Plan (PGP) must be developed at the beginning of each evaluation period. The PGP will include the professional development objectives the principal or assistant principal will pursue. These include, but are not limited to:
- Professional qualities and instructional leadership,
- School culture,
- Professional growth and learning,
- Student growth and student achievement,
- School planning and progress, and
- Stakeholder support and engagement.
Nonprobationary status (also referred to as tenure) is not available for support personnel hired for the first time to a position in a school or school district after January 1, 2017.
Teachers hired after January 1, 2017, must be employed for five consecutive years prior to earning tenure. A teacher must earn a rating of effective or exemplary for the final three years of that five-year period in order to earn tenure.
Teachers hired after January 1, 2017, will, after earning tenure, be evaluated every other year, unless the teacher receives a rating of developing or ineffective. If that happens, the teacher will be evaluated annually for the next two years. If that teacher earns two consecutive ratings of ineffective, the board could order mandatory intensive professional development, revoke the teacher’s tenure, or fire the teacher.
If tenure is revoked, a teacher can attain tenure again after earning three consecutive ratings of effective or exemplary.
The Alabama Teacher Recruitment Fund
A total of $5 million will be put into the Alabama Teacher Recruitment Fund. Any money leftover will be returned to the Education Trust Fund.
A teacher who works in any of the following schools is eligible for an initial bonus of up to $1,000 before the beginning of the next school year if the local board and State Superintendent of Education approve it. An additional $1,000 can be provided at the beginning of the second and third year.
The types of schools are:
- A “failing” school as defined by the Alabama Accountability Act, or by the grading system,
- A school that has 80% or more of students eligible for free or reduced-price meals,
- A school that is in “restructuring” or “reconstitution” status, determined by the ALSDE,
- A school unable to provide adequate staff due to its location.
A teacher is eligible for the bonus if they teach in one of the aforementioned schools and:
- Teach a subject that is in critical shortage,
- Is a career technical or special education and the job has been open for more than six months,
- Is a new teacher,
- If not a new teacher, has received a minimum rating of effective on the most recent evaluation.
The Alabama Teacher Mentor Program
A total of $3 million will be appropriated for the Alabama Teacher Mentor Program. The purpose of the program is to provide new teachers a mentor and to pay that mentor for that service. Mentor teachers can be paid up to $1,000 per year for serving as a mentor.
Mentors will be recommended by the school’s principal and must have at least five years of teaching experience.
The Legislative Teacher Advisement Committee
This committee will advise the legislature on various aspects of education policy. The committee will consist of, among others, nine K-12 teachers (each state board of education member will appoint one teacher) and two K-12 principals (appointed by the state board of education).
Initial terms will be staggered (one- and two-year terms), but ultimately terms will be three years.
Appointments will be made after December 1, 2016, and the first organizational meeting must be held by February 1, 2017. The committee must meet at least twice per year and can meet more often if a majority of the members decide.
Final Implementation of Two Old Laws (that haven’t been implemented)
The Legislative Performance Recognition Program
The Legislative Performance Recognition Program, originally created in 2012, has not yet been funded.
This bill appropriates $10 million for school districts that have achievement results in the top 10% in the state or improve their letter grade (from the A-F grading system not yet implemented) by one grade.
The A-F Grading System
The A-F grading system, created in 2012 but not yet implemented, must be implemented not later than September 1, 2016.