State Board of Education Teacher Evaluation Regulations May Conflict with Legislation

The Washington Post reports in an April 28 article about a potential conflict between regulations proposed by Maryland State Board of Education and legislation (HB 1263/SB 899) passed during the 2010 Session.  The draft regulations would require at least 50 percent of teacher and principal evaluations to be based on teacher progress.  However, legislation passed during the 2010 Session would appear to limit the use of student progress to no more than 35 percent of an evaluation.  Both the legislation and draft regulations attempt to favorably position Maryland in the competition for federal “Race to the Top” education funding.

All of the state’s public schools would be required to make student progress, as measured by standardized tests and other means, account for at least 50 percent of teacher and principal evaluations by 2012. President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have pressed educators to give student performance more weight in teacher evaluations.

Maryland education officials have said the 50 percent figure is important in showing the state’s commitment to Obama’s education priorities, which could help it qualify for as much as $250 million in federal aid through the Race to the Top competition.

But the regulations appear to push against the limits of a bill approved by the Maryland legislature this month. The bill would require student growth to be a “significant” factor in teacher evaluations but limits any one criterion to 35 percent.

The new regulations would limit any single component of student progress, such as standardized test scores, to 35 percent.

“The board felt it was important to put students at the center of everything,” said a spokesman for the state Department of Education, William Reinhard. “As the state board viewed it, this implements the intent of the law and makes it as strong as they possibly could.” …

In Maryland, some politicians and educators, including the leader of the largest local teachers union, said the state board was overstepping the new legislation, which Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) is expected to sign next month.

US Department of Education Race to the Top Website

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