Of the 35,000 classroom teachers who taught Louisiana public school children during the 2010-2011 school year, 165 (less than half of 1 percent) were labeled “unsatisfactory. Of those 165 poor performing teachers, 86 were terminated from their jobs.
Statistics like these are among the reasons why state Superintendent of Education John White is selling Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposals to overhaul public education in Louisiana, plans that include eliminating teacher tenure, linking teacher pay to student performance and eliminating seniority in personnel decisions.
According to the white paper released Monday by the state Department of Education, the proposed legislation “bars school board members from participating in hiring and firing decisions, thus designating local district superintendents and principals - those most familiar with the needs of schools and students - with the authority to make all personnel decisions and holding them accountable for student performance outcomes.”
“On the one hand, we’re holding our principals and local superintendents accountable for setting and meeting ambitious, but achievable, goals,” White says. “So, on the other hand we must empower them to effectively meet these objectives by giving them the freedom to reward our most effective teachers and school leaders.”
The proposals outlined in the white paper are as follows:
The proposed changes rely on the state’s new educator performance evaluation model, COMPASS, which will be fully implemented for all teachers and principals in the 2012-2013 school year. While the COMPASS model is designed to provide educators with qualitative and quantitative measures, including measures of student growth, and the law stipulates that teachers rated Ineffective for three years will not qualify for recertification, White said the proposed measures go a step further by linking performance measures and outcomes to hiring, retention, and compensation decisions.
Hiring and Placement of Principals and Teachers Superintendents and principals would make all hiring and placement decisions without potential board interference under the new legislation. When considering the hiring of principals and teachers, managers would use objective evaluation information from previous evaluations to determine the best candidate.
Evaluation of Principals and Teachers Educators are now evaluated annually, as mandated by Act 54. Educators are provided with clear expectations, concrete feedback, and individualized supports to address identified weaknesses. Evaluations are now at least 50% objective, compared to the past when they were 100% subjective.
Retention of Principals and Teachers Under the proposed legislation, superintendents would be empowered to change compensation scales – using dollars traditionally awarded for advanced degrees and years of service – to instead fund increases for excellent performance or academic preparation in hard-to-staff subject areas, like math or science. No teacher’s current salary would be decreased under this legislation, and raises would still be given for years of experience. However, ineffective teachers would not be given raises.
Improvement, Tenure, and Dismissal of Principals and Teachers Teachers rated Ineffective would lose their tenure status under the new legislation, but all other current tenured teachers would retain tenure. Under current law, Ineffective teachers can grieve their rating under the Act 54 grievance procedure and their tenure would be reinstated if their Ineffective rating is overturned. For new teachers, or for veterans who have lost tenure status, tenure is reserved for those educators receiving five consecutive Highly Effective ratings. Under Act 54, a teacher rated Ineffective is placed on an improvement plan and given supports in order to get better. A second consecutive rating of Ineffective would allow a district to dismiss the teacher. If the teacher is not dismissed but receives a third Ineffective rating within a certification period, the state will not renew the teacher’s certificate to teach in Louisiana.
Reductions in Force Superintendents must protect and retain their most effective educators under the new legislation, even during a layoff situation. No longer may seniority be a factor in layoffs; effectiveness must be the primary consideration in any reduction of force.
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