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Teacher Evaluation Plans in NCLB Waiver Proposals
posted by: Alix | November 28, 2011, 10:36 PM   

With the overhaul of No Child Left Behind taking longer than expected, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the Obama administration introduced an NCLB waiver plan back in September that would allow states to apply for regulatory relief in exchange for key reforms. In the months following, while 11 states applied for the waivers, over half of the proposals did not outline specific teacher evaluation components.

According to the U.S. Department of Education's waiver guidelines, teacher accountability plans are the core teacher-quality requirement in the application process, yet just Colorado, Tennessee, Indiana, Florida, Oklahoma have adopted specific plans for meaningful teacher evaluations.

While less-specific plans are not considered deal breakers for waivers according to insiders, a summary of the various state plans outlines the varied stages of accountability adoption:

Colorado, Tennessee, Indiana, Florida, and Oklahoma: Of the 11 states who submitted proposals, this group already have laws on the books mandating robust evaluation systems. While all are in various stages of implementation, all five plans are specific in what each evaluation model will look like in the coming years.

Massachusetts: Massachusetts has in fact adopted some evaluation regulation, however, all districts are allowed to come up with different systems based on components outlined by the state.

Georgia: Georgia also has statewide guidelines and it won a Race to the Top grant in 2010. However, just 26 districts out of about 180 are participating in evaluation overhauls. The waiver application states that it will "offer" other districts the chance to adopt the new evaluations next school year, meaning further state-wide legislation is needed for the plan to be widespread.

New Jersey: New Jersey is unique in that they have an evaluation task force designed to draft components of a state-wide evaluation system. While the idea is innovative, the union strong-hold state's ultimate success will depend on local and state teacher union's cooperation.

Minnesota: Minnesota passed a piece of legislation in 2011 requiring new teacher evaluations statewide, but it is only beginning the process of looking into building on the law, which is fairly short and sparse on detail.

New Mexico: New Mexico state leaders have outlined an evaluation system, but need the state legislature to pass a law to overhaul its current outdated system in the next legislative session.

Kentucky: According to Kentucky's waiver application, state officials plan to introduce regulations that would allow it to require statewide adoption of a model, rather than leaving this up to local districts.

States applying for waivers will be notified in January if their plan has been approved, with another deadline for proposals set for February. The department expects all 50 states to eventually apply for an exemption. Clearly while all states are in various stages of developing these plans, the waiver process has given states the chance to catch up with other reform minded systems nationwide.

What do you think about the waiver proposals? Does the process encourage states to adopt specific plans?
Comment below.

Comments (1)Add Comment
written by Bruce, FL, November 28, 2011

I'm a teacher in Florida, and I don't know a single teacher who is happy with our new "robust evaluation systems," as you call them.

The federal government has essentially admitted that NCLB is an impossible mandate, but rather than fix NCLB, the federal government is using the threat of NCLB to further intrude into education.

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