The Maine Department of Education today released Informational Letter #61, Approval of Teacher Evaluation Systems Using Student Assessments. Although it appears to be a recapitulation of what has happened since the Maine Legislature passed LD 1799 [An Act to Encourage the Use of Models in the Collection and Use of Student Achievement Data] last session, there are definitely hints about what Maine’s schools, teachers and local Associations might expect in the coming months and years.
In terms of this blog, though, there are a couple of points that I want to highlight today, but address more fully at another time
1. LD 1799 eliminated the former statutory language forbidding use of student assessment data to evaluate teachers (20-A MRSA 6202-A, now repealed)
2. The bill also instituted an Evaluation Models Stakeholder Group to both develop a model for using student assessment data in teacher evaluations and approve other models school systems might want to use.
3. Teacher evaluation processes, by case law, are not generally part of teachers’ collective bargaining agreements [except as to matters such as receiving copies of criteria/form] because evaluations are “educational policy” (26 MRSA 965(C)).
4. Under the law, then, the only option is for local Associations to “meet and consult” over teacher evaluation procedures.
5. As best I can tell from what’s at the Department’s website, there is no requirement that, or even permission for, local teachers’ Associations (the bargaining agent) to be involved in the development of the local-level alternative models.
6. Again, as best I can tell from what’s at the Department’s website, there is no requirement that, or even permission for, local teachers’ Associations (the bargaining agent) to be involved in determining whether to use the state model (once released) or a locally-developed model.
7. The Maine Education Association’s President, Chris Galgay, and its Executive Director, Mark Gray, are members of the Stakeholder Group. By searching the MEA website, I did find a few organizational articles about LD 1799 and its implications, but nothing recent as best I can tell (since posting dates are not given).
One can only hope that before the final report of the Stakeholder Group is released and/or state-endorsed teacher evaluation models are announced, some mechanism will be put into place to make sure teachers – not the statewide union, but real, front-line, classroom teachers – have input into and influence over evaluation processes that directly affect their professional lives.