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March 6th BESE Meeting UPDATE

Many thanks to principals and others who sent emails and made phone calls to BESE board members to ask that the 2 new recommendations made by Supt. White and his staff be rejected and sent back to the ACT 240 Subcommittee. As a result of these actions BESE members did not approve a set of evaluation changes suggested by  Superintendent White that were not part of the Act 240 Subcommittee recommendations. But because they were not vetted by the subcommittee, Board Member Jay Guillot moved that they be returned to the panel for further study.

Act 240 recommendations that were approved by BESE are:

  • Removal of the override provision requiring any teacher who is rated “ineffective” in either the qualitative or quantitative component of the evaluation to be rated “ineffective” overall. Principals will have authority to make that decision.
  • Principals’ evaluations will be partly based on school performance score growth.
  • Principals will receive support in improving student performance, conducting evaluations and building curricula.
  • Suspended for one more year any consequences for teachers whose Value Added Model scores are considered unsatisfactory.(Superintendent of Education John White said that the delay will allow his department to create a two-year baseline score to help determine the proper use of value-added measurements in evaluating teachers.)

The recommendations by the LDOE that are being sent back to the ACT 240 committee are:

  1. Observations
  • Observation/Data Collection Process. To ensure educators are supported and developed through regular, individualized feedback, T the evaluator or evaluators of each teacher and administrator shall conduct as many observations of teacher and administrator practice as is sufficient to gain a complete and accurate picture of performance, including strengths and weaknesses, and to impart individualized feedback throughout and at the conclusion of each year. This shall include a minimum of two observations per academic year and may include more observations, particularly for teachers or administrators that are not meeting expectations
  • At least one observation shall be announced and shall include a pre- and post-observation conference. One of the observations may be waived for teachers who have earned a rating of highly effective according to the value-added model in the previous year. Following all observations, evaluators shall provide evaluatees with feedback, including areas for commendation as well as areas for improvement.
  • Additional evidence, collected throughout the year that provides feedback for improvement, such as data from periodic visits to the school and/or classroom as well as written materials or artifacts, may be used to inform evaluation.
  • The LDE shall issue guidance to support district and principal implementation of observation protocols
  • To receive a final professional practice score of Ineffective, teachers must receive a minimum of two observations per academic year.

 

  1. Goal setting
  • If the school performance score declines for two consecutive years for any principal, the local superintendent shall report, to the LDE, the basis for any such principal setting learning targets lower than the LDE recommended targets beginning in the third year.
  •  If (a) the school performance score declines for three or more consecutive years for any principal and (b) if there exists a statewide trend of principals with declining school performance scores who set annual targets below the state recommended targets, then any such principal’s learning targets shall be set at or above the LDE recommended targets beginning in the fourth year.

In other BESE Action Items:

MFP

  • The Board of Elementary and Secondary education on Friday gave its approval to a $3.7 billion Minimum Foundation program formula. The spending plan, which goes to the Legislature in April, is less than was requested by the MFP task Force, but more than Gov. Bobby Jindal included in his budget proposal for the coming fiscal year.
  • The plan approved by BESE includes a 1.375% increase in K-12 spending instead of the 2.75% inflation factor that the task force recommended.
  • BESE Member Jay Guillot, who chairs the board’s finance committee, said the proposal includes a $5.4 million increase in funding for high-needs student programs, and a $2.6 million increase in course choice funds.
  • The base per-student amount in the MFP proposal is $3,961 per student, and is weighted to provide more for students with special needs.
  • The legislature has the responsibility to approve or reject the formula, but may not change it.

LETTER  GRADES

  • As the changes to teacher evaluation were being discussed, several BESE member said it is time to move away from assigning single letter grades to schools. Louisiana is one of just 16 states that label schools with letter grades.
  • BESE Member Jane Smith moved to abolish letter grades, partly because of the affect that large numbers of students opting out of standardized tests could have on school performance scores.
  • The board voted to approve a single letter system for preschools, starting in the 2016-17 school year. The rating will replace the current star system of grading preschool programs.

 

OPT- OUT

BESE won’t consider an opt-out policy until after testing ends--Despite mounting evidence that the opt out movement could disrupt standardized testing later this month, BESE decided against setting proactive policies to help school systems cope with  this potential problem. Scott Richard, Executive Director for Louisiana School Boards Association stated that over 756 students had chosen to opt out in Calcasieu Parish. “We are asking for a proactive, uniform process on opt out,” Richard said. “Right now, districts are left on their own.”

CCSS and PARCC

As has been the case at BESE meetings for much of the past year, Common Core State Standards and related tests were the most contentious issues at the March BESE meeting. Requests ranged from abandoning Common Core altogether to ensuring that there would be no negative consequences if students opt out of the tests.

Superintendent of Education John White said that federal education law requires all students to be accountable, that state law requires all children to attend school, and that any child who does not take the test will receive a zero. Principals, he said, have the responsibility to discuss the issue with parents and “set appropriate accommodations” for those who oppose the tests.

That did not satisfy witnesses like Airline High School Principal Jason Rowland. “What do you do when you don’t know what to do?” asked the Bossier Parish principal. “We don’t have guidance in how we roll out this curriculum. Parents have lost faith in the system.”

ACT 833

A new committee will tackle a new state law regarding high school diplomas for some students with disabilities. White said that a new committee will consider two questions: Which students can be eligible for diplomas, and what details about the program should be provided for students.

The panel, which will include Rep. Schroder as well as state education officials and special education teachers, will report to BESE at the April meeting.

Act 833 of 2014 was supposed to guarantee that some students with individualized education programs could earn a diploma if their IEP team determines that they have met appropriate standards.

We will keep you posted on the dates for the ACT 240 committee to hear the 2 LDOE recommendations. We appreciate your support and we will continue to advocate for principals and site based administrators!  Thanks for all that you do!

Sincerely,

Debra Schum, LAP Executive DirectorTop of Form

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