This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.
It rarely pays to get too hopeful about education reform in this state. But the Legislature – the Senate at least – has actually taken a major step toward accountability in Washington’s public schools.
Senate Bill 5895, which cleared that chamber Tuesday, requires the use of objective student-performance measures in the evaluation of teachers. It also requires that feedback from teachers be used in the evaluation of principals.
Teachers and principals can lose their jobs if they keep flunking the new tests. This turns Washington tradition on its head. In this state, it can take a felony to separate a faculty member from his or her job. Only the bravest administrators have dared tackle the convoluted, expensive process required to fire the incompetent.
Let’s not get giddy, though. The Senate’s move to tie “student growth data” looks impressive only in terms of the state’s benighted history. SB 5895 is not radical. It would not make Washington a leader in education reform. It would merely help the state catch up to the middle of the pack.
But the 46-3 vote in the Senate is impressive. Most education reform measures are throttled in committee. Once this one reached a floor vote in open daylight, lawmakers embraced it – if only to avoid shame in some cases.
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