California officials have been sweating bullets since President Barack Obama singled out the state last week as likely to be shut out of winning grants in the $4.35 billion Race to the Top (RTTT) competition later this year, unless education leaders there become willing to drop the firewall that right now prohibits the use of student test scores to size up teachers.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has pledged to use his influence to rewrite state law around this issue. And yesterday, state schools chief Jack O’Connell parachuted into the Long Beach Unified School District where leaders have been using student data to evaluate instructional strategies and program effectiveness.
O’Connell wanted to make the case that the state law in question doesn’t bar such uses of student data at the school district level, even though he acknowledged that Long Beach Unified is rare for doing so. The Times story refers to a 2006 state law that bars student test scores from being used to evaluate teachers at the state level.
Any California experts out there care to jump in and tell us what exactly state law allows, and what it doesn’t, when it comes to student-achievement data and teacher evaluations?
Ironically, President Obama cited Long Beach Unified, a nationally acclaimed district that has won the Broad Prize for Urban Education, in his first major education address in March for “using data to track how much progress a student is making and where that student is struggling.” I’m sure school leaders there would be bummed if their state was shut out of RTTT money.