Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Critical Legislation in Senate Education Committee on April 30!

There are two very important bills that will be heard in the Senate Education Committee sometime Thursday morning (after adjournment of the Senate floor) that could drastically affect all K-12 educators. (Both teachers and principals) Please read this information and the bills linked here so that you can contact your Senator with your recommendation for his/her vote.

SB32 by Senator Mills is also sponsored by the Louisiana Association of Educators and would greatly improve the teacher and principal evaluation systems in Louisiana. The bill requires that the evaluation system be revamped to greatly reduce the effect of the highly inaccurate VAM ratings on both teachers and principals.

SB 32 would remove all requirements in the law for VAM ratings of educators, and would instead substitute multiple measures of student growth in achievement as part of the educator's evaluation. VAM could still be used but it could not count for more than 25% of the educator's evaluation. Here is a John Oliver video about the absurdity of VAM ratings and standardized testing in America.

Please read the full bill by clicking on the bill number above, because it contains many other important changes in the law. My opinion is that this bill would greatly improve the teacher and principal evaluation systems and would minimize the damaging effects of using VAM to overrule all other important measures of teacher effectiveness. If you agree with me, please send an email to each of the Senate Education Committee members asking them to vote "yes" for Senate bill 32.

SB 54 by Senator Broome is a well intentioned bill but in my opinion would be a huge mistake because it would tie the hands of our school principals in maintaining order in schools and in requiring that parents to take responsibility for the behavior of their children at school. Please consider asking the senators on the Senate Education Committee to vote "no" on SB 54.

This bill would prohibit all suspensions and expulsions of students in grades K-3 unless their behavior presents a threat to the physical well being of others. I can assure my readers that there are many extremely disruptive behaviors that do not necessarily rise to the level of being a threat to the physical wellbeing of others that is absolutely not acceptable in a school environment. Principals need to have the full authority to utilize both in-school and out-of-school suspension to correct this behavior and to require parents to take responsibility for their children.

Our elementary schools are not funded at near the level it would take to provide counselors and social workers and therapists that would be needed to control all of the unacceptable behavior of children that interferes with the education of other children. Sometimes there may be mental health issues involved that schools are not equipped to handle. It is time we stop making educators totally responsible for the unacceptable behavior of some children (a small minority). 

Ask the Senators on the Education Committee to vote "no" on SB 54!

Please send your emails to the following Senators on the Senate Education Committee, either today or early tomorrow morning.

Senator Conrad Appel (Chairman)
721 Papworth Avenue
Suite 102A
Metairie, LA 70005

(866) 946-3133
Senator Eric LaFleur (Vice-Chairman)
P.O. Box 617
Ville Platte, LA 70586

(337) 363-5019
Senator Dan Claitor
320 Somerulos Street
Baton Rouge, LA 70802

(225) 342-7602
Senator Elbert L. Guillory
633 East Landry Street
Opelousas, LA 70570

(337) 943-2457
Senator Jean-Paul J. Morrell
New Orleans Lakefront Terminal Building
6001 Stars & Stripes Blvd., Suite 221
New Orleans, LA 70126

(504) 284-4794
Senator Mike Walsworth
4007 White's Ferry Rd
Suite A
West Monroe, LA 71291

(318) 340-6453
Senator Mack "Bodi" White
808 O'Neal Lane
Baton Rouge, LA 70816

(225) 272-1324
Senator Page Cortez (Interim Member)
101 W. Farrell Road
Bldg. 5, Suite 100
Lafayette, LA 70508

(337) 993-7430


John said...

My note to the members of the education committee:

Please vote to advance SB 32—Fred Mill’s bill improving the state-mandated evaluation of teachers.

There are a raft of reasons to vote for Mill’s bill and an even larger raft of reasons to vote against Value Added Measures (VAM) in any form. —It is an unreliable measure (something Mills is eleqouent about); the American Statistical Association recommends strongly against using the method in teacher evaluation and more.

But for my money the most telling criticism is that our current use of VAM actually works to damage the best work that teachers actually do by forcing them to concentrate their efforts on the least important part of their efforts. If you want successful life outcomes vote to reduce the effect of VAM tools on teacher evaluations.

VAM proponents claim that their use of standardized tests will force teachers to teach “better.” But in truth what actually happens is that teachers are encouraged to concentrate on what is demonstrably the least effective part of their work with students in order to satisfy a passel of legislators in Baton Rouge.

A teacher's effect on real student successes —like college graduation— is 75% due to things that are found in the different ways they effect "non-cognitive" factors (attendance, interest in education, attitude, graduation, etc.) and only 25% is attributable to differential effect on "cognitive" factors (standardized tests).

Further, a teacher’s effects on cognitive and non-cognitive factors vary independently. So, teachers who are good at developing the 75% of effective, attitudinal parts of education might or might not be best at the 25% of student success attributed to stuff on tests. We WILL be dismissing some of our most effective teachers…and differentially retaining some of our least effective ones. This makes absolutely no sense.

So forcing those teachers to focus on standardized tests results is forcing them to spend more of their precious time teaching for the SMALL (25%) factor and losing focus on the BIG (75%) factor. This, statistically, has to result in POORER outcomes overall.

No sensible person who wants good outcomes substitutes an emphasis the less effective factors for focus on the big, important factors if they really want a good outcome. Ignoring students non-test competencies in order to get them to march through a narrow set of drills that ONLY help the school look better on the tests is educational malpractice.

Repeat: The standardized testing regime is Educational Malpractice.

Teachers have been saying this right along.

We all need to start listening.

Please, please, vote to advance SB 32. Fred Mill’s bill is a start in the right direction.


Dr. John St. Julien (Curriculum and Instruction, LSU, 1994)

Anonymous said...

I wrote each member of the Senate Education Committee. I almost didn't since it seemed futile anymore but maybe they will read their email and at least think about what I had to say. Our end of the year evaluations,SLTs, PGPs and CVR reviews are all coming up due, as well as the EOY PARCC and we are still teaching. Or maybe I should say still trying to teach. Still trying to get students who are constantly disruptive and have been disruptive for 3 years to stop talking/throwing things/breaking rulers, pencils and staplers every single day. (Why is writing a student up seen as being a bad teacher if all the other interventions haven't worked and the parents can't or won't discipline their child??) Still trying to get one more "on the fence" student to do make up work to earn a D. Still trying to finish up all the myriad end of the year paperwork. Educators do all this while constantly looking over our should to see who is out to get us!!

Michael Deshotels said...

Thank you to John St Julian for that excellent explaination of what is wrong with the VAM dominated syste.

To anomous, I have to say that the lack of emphasis on discipline and parent responsibility by our amateur LDOE is the biggest obsticle to teaching effectively. In addition such dangerous stressful conditions in some classrooms is driving away some of our best teachers. When will we restore sanity to education!

Jeremy Miller said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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