Teachers’ union objects to tying test scores to teacher evaluation; Washington becomes first state to lose education waiver

As expected, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan in a letter to Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn today declined to renew the state’s education waiver.


Dorn pulls no punches in his press release.

“Washington state has been doing great work under our waiver agreement,” Dorn said. “We have developed our own system that more accurately reflects the progress being made by schools across the state. But to get our waiver renewed for next year, the Department of Education was clear: The Legislature needed to amend state law to require teacher and principal evaluations to include student growth on state tests, when appropriate. I agree: Student progress should be one of multiple elements in a teacher’s evaluation. Unfortunately the teacher’s union felt it was more important to protect their members than agree to that change and pressured the Legislature not to act.” (emphasis added)

Education Week explains.

The move means that, for starters, districts in Washington state will lose control over nearly $40 million in federal money. That’s because schools will now have to begin setting aside that money for NCLB-prescribed remedies for low-performing schools, such as tutoring and school choice. The state will also have to return to the NCLB law’s much-maligned yardstick, gauging schools based on “adequate yearly progress,” or AYP. 

The EW story is very good and includes this response from the union.

“WEA believes the Washington Legislature did the right thing last session when it rejected Duncan’s  inflexible, and bureaucratic demands,” the union’s president, Kim Mead wrote in a statement. 

We wrote about this earlier in a post titled “Victory for teachers’ union — defeat for local schools.”