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Negotiator: Deal reached on teacher evaluations

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Feb. 13, 2012 at 12:25 pm with No Comments »
February 13, 2012 4:31 pm

That’s according to one of the four lawmakers who have been negotiating with Gov. Chris Gregoire for about nine hours over five days.

“I was doubtful we could get there,” said Rep. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup. “The governor did a very good job pushing everybody.”

He expects a Senate vote before Tuesday’s 5 p.m. deadline for bills to advance and then a House vote soon afterward.

Dammeier, Republican Sen. Steve Litzow and two Democrats, Rep. Kristine Lytton and Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, have been meeting with Gregoire since Wednesday to resolve a debate that pits teachers unions against business groups — and that had become snagged on a separate dispute among Senate Democrats over charter schools.

Dammeier said charter schools were not discussed. Instead lawmakers reached what he calls “a good compromise” on teacher evaluations that would:

  • Set up a four-tier, eight-criteria evaluation system for teachers and principals that would replace the current two tier system and start being implemented in the 2013-2014 school year, as required in existing law.
  • Require multiple “student growth measures” (such as test scores) to be a factor in evaluations — specifically, Dammeier said, they must be a “substantial factor” in at least three of the eight criteria for evaluation. Current law says districts “may” consider student growth.
  • In perhaps the most significant change, evaluations must be a “factor” in laying off or reassigning educators — but not until the 2015-2016 school year.
  • New teachers rated at the lowest tier would not be able to obtain tenure, remaining on provisional, year-to-year status. Veteran teachers rated at the lowest tier for two years would be terminated, subject to various due-process rights.
  • Teachers rated in the two highest tiers would be able to obtain tenure earlier than the usual three years.
  • Tenure would not be revoked for poor performance, as some of the proposals had called for.
  • Principals would have some ability to reject reassignment of teachers to their schools.

I’ve got calls in to the business and union interests on either side of the debate.

UPDATE 2:15 p.m.: House Democrats’ negotiator, Lytton, said it’s premature to say there is a deal until everyone reads the text of the striker amendment.

“We’ve got to go back and make sure the intention… is actually in the bill,” said Lytton, D-Anacortes.

However, she said if everything is included as intended, it’s a big and positive step forward. “This will be one of the bigger things we do in our state,” she said.

The Washington Education Association teachers union said it doesn’t yet have a response. Lytton said teachers have been involved at every step: “We’re doing this with teachers, and not to teachers.”

UPDATE 3:15 p.m.: Sen. McAuliffe said she needs to brief her fellow Senate Democrats before anything is set in stone. She said the appearance of details in the news media could throw a wrench in the deal.

McAuliffe said she could not give details but there are protections built into the bill for teachers.

UPDATE 4:30 p.m.: Here’s a news release issued by McAulliffe, Litzow and Lytton with Dammeier notably absent.

McAuliffe, Litzow and Lytton comment on teacher evaluation compromise

OLYMPIA — Over the last week, Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell, Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island, Rep. Kristine Lytton, D-Anacortes, Rep. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup and Gov. Gregoire have been working hard to reach a compromise on teacher evaluation legislation. Today, the legislators released statements regarding their progress.

“We are close to a compromise on a teacher evaluation proposal that still needs to be vetted by our Democratic and Republication colleagues in the Senate and House,” McAuliffe said. “The input of my caucus colleagues is very important to me and I wouldn’t move forward without their thoughts. It’s imperative we reach a decision to ensure our children can have the highest quality education in the classroom.”

“We are working hard to reach a bipartisan agreement on this proposal, which I hope can be turned into legislation to be voted on tomorrow,” Litzow said. “I believe this is a critical vote to take for the quality of our children’s education.”

“There have been many substantive, bipartisan conversations with all advocacy groups,” Lytton said. “I believe we are close to an agreement that would take our state’s teacher evaluation system to the next level, and my colleagues and I will continue working until we find a solution that will help all our students.”

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