State Senate passes bill to include student performance in teacher evaluations, regain NCLB waiver

Washington last year became the first state to lose its No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver as a result of failing to include student test scores in teacher and principal evaluations.

The Senate has acted to remedy that problem, passing SB 5748 on a vote of 26-23. The bill includes federally mandated student assessments as one of the multiple measures of student growth in teacher and principal evaluations. 

Melissa Santos reports in the Olympian,

The legislation, Senate Bill 5748, would let local school districts and their teacher unions negotiate how the standardized test scores are used in evaluations and how much weight they would be given.

…Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island, said he is confident that Washington would regain its No Child Left Behind waiver if the full Legislature approves Senate Bill 5748 and it is signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee.

He and other supporters of the measure said they have seen local school districts suffer since they were forced to set aside 20 percent of their Title I money due to loss of the state’s waiver.

As Leah Todd writes in the Seattle Times, lawmakers had to overcome union opposition to the plan.

Washington Education Association President Kim Mead reacted quickly after the vote Wednesday, saying in a statement she is ashamed of the lawmakers who voted for the bill.

“They sold out our students,” Mead said.

The measure now goes to the state House. 

Opportunity Washington cited the NCLB waiver loss previously, saying 

Washington must take steps to ensure that the very best teachers are in every classroom, every day. The state can meet that challenge by continuing to assess teacher performance, providing opportunities for current teachers to enhance their skills, making assessment of student outcomes a factor in personnel evaluation, and ensuring principals have authority to hire the best teachers.

Yet lawmakers failed to adopt legislation in 2014 that would have required statewide test scores to be considered as part of teacher evaluations. As a result, Washington was the first state to lose its No Child Left Behind waiver, which means that districts lost control over how to spend approximately $40 million in federal funds.

The Senate legislation adds important information to the assessment process, advancing the goal of making sure “the very best teachers are in every classroom, every day.”