Thursday, January 10, 2013

SB 64: Q & A on the Evaluation

Senator Aaron Osmond hosted a Question and Answer last night on where the state is with SB 64 and the new teacher evaluation.  In attendance were JEA members James Maughan, Renee Sass, Brett Boberg, Angie Alm, Jen Hebertson, other district employees Glen Varga, Mike Anderson, and Jordan School Board Member Corbin White.  If you were there and I missed seeing you, I apologize.

The following are my notes:

Susan McFarland, Salt Lake District, asked about professional development to learn and meet standards. Superintendent Martel Melove would like to restore quality teacher block grant that used to fund 10 PD days before the legislature cut the funding.  PD is not included in governor's budget. The cumulative loss of PD will make it so Utah can't meet Prosperity 2020 goals.

SLO, Student Learning Outcomes, will be used in non-tested subjects.  State is working with outside experts for how to measure growth with SLOs. SLOs take a lot of work which can be arduous, but SLOs do provide clarity on student outcomes. State needs to create a bank of examples.

Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, UEA President, is concerned about only computer adaptive testing for student growth in tested subjects. 

The reporting into "Highly Effective", "Effective", "Emerging Effective" (teachers in first year or first year of new assignment), "Minimally Effective", and "Not Effective" was never intended to be a bell curve system. Reporting is only to see how many in each category and to show that administrators are doing the evaluations.  Aaron Osmond's intent is not a bell curve on number of teachers in each level of effectiveness.

Cathy, sixth grade in Salt Lake District, said her team departmentalizes.  She is concerned about the evaluation on student growth.  Last year she had 77 students who were all proficient in Language Arts.  Students who had 100% in fifth grade missed one question in sixth, so they are not showing growth. It is hard to show growth when students hit the ceiling. Adaptive testing will be able to show growth. Growth is only part of evaluation.  There are multiple measures, including observation (which will likely be similar to JPAS), student growth, and stakeholder (parent and student) input. Senator Osmond supports district level reporting, not schools or teacher level.  Laws and board rules require reporting at district level and school level. Adaptive testing provides specific information with immediate feedback for teachers.

Tom Nedreberg, UEA Vice President, Tintic District is concerned about district level data in small districts, because it can look like individual data, because number of teachers is so small. State office is working through this issue and may aggregate with other districts.

Connie Sorensen, Kindergarten in Granite District, asked about accountability for parents.  She said some students are just in survival mode, because they need food or sleep, are being abused, watch too much TV, and parents don't follow through.  They are not learning, because they are not receiving support at home . Senator Osmond said this is a systemic problem with parents for education. We can't legislate parental quality. Looking at ways to hold parents somewhat accountable, by possibly hold students back a year.

Sharon reminded everyone present that the purpose of bill was to improve instruction. Growing as educators and moving forward together is the intention.  We need this message to get out.  The bill also puts more pressure on administrators.

Unitah District Superintendent said if that purpose is true, it is missing the training part, if we are truly working to improve instruction.  Administrators also need PD.

Cody, a superintendent somewhere small who also teaches two periods a day, said we can't treat kids as a product.  He is concerned that the variables (student growth, parent and student input) change so much every year.  Teachers need something solid to work on. 

Karla Moosman, Canyons, appreciates veteran teachers for what they shared with her. We don't want competition between teacher.  We need collaboration. She is concerned that the best teachers won't want to teach lower kids, causing the lower kids to be taught by those with les experience and expertise.  Evaluate us on factors we have some control over.

Sue Dickey, Granite, asked if we can change timelines as needed based on how the pilot goes?
Senator Osmond is willing to look at changes if truly needed.

Utah Schools for Deaf and Blind, deaf teacher said she has only 8 students which means few students get fewer parent reviews.  Concerned about having too small a sample of parent input.  Blind students need Braille tests, which can't be computer adaptive. Signing what is being said can't be done on computer adaptive, because students will be on different questions. Sid Dickson from the state office said that the parent input part will be more about changing instruction based on information received.  Model is about communication between teacher and parent, and what you do with information from students and parents. RFP (bid) on Computer Adaptive Testing included accommodations for students with disabilities. USDB volunteered as a pilot Computer Adaptive Testing.

Rick Steadman, Canyons choir teacher, said electives are just as important as core classes.  With large classes in music, the teacher can't meet some criteria due to number of students. Working with groups doesn't reflect on evaluations. Are elective teachers actually teaching the core?  Student assessment on electives will be very different, based on SLOs.

One teacher commented that she won't want to have a student teacher if test scores are going to reflect on her evaluation.

Glen Varga, Oquirrh Hills, asked, "Where is the balance between control of development of assessments between district and state board?"  We can't compare between states if don't use a common assessment, which Utah opted out of.  We want local control at the state level, but the state then makes the tests for the state, not allowing districts to have their local control.  Values and context locally is important.
One superintendent is concerned about unintended consequences.  He said there are 53 indicators in teacher standards, which seems like too many. "Effective" is goal, but it looks like a C to the public.  It is hard to sell C to public as "effective".

Senator Osmond recognized that the pressure on educators comes from legislature.  He knows that teachers are not the problem, and we need to work together.  You can contact him with further questions or comments on SB 64 at   He is data gathering to see what the concerns are.

State Superintendent Martel Menlove said any bill that impacts compensation will hurt SB 64 outcomes. We need to time make SB 64 work.  It will be fully implemented in 2015-2016 school year. Thanked Sid Dickson at state for all the work she has done.


  1. I'm concerned about make up packets and summer school affecting end of the year testing scores. I have students who look me in the eye and state, "I don't have to pass your class (learn the skills necessary to score well at the end of the year). I can pay for a packet or go to summer school. It's a lot easier. This attitude is wide spread and I was wondering if we could get rid of packets and summer school and use the on line classes (10 weeks) for credit make up? Also, can CRT individual student test results be attached to qualifying for graduation? I've noticed that over time our graduation numbers have increased and our CRT scores have decreased. Please put the power back in the classroom where it belongs and require students to use on line classes to make up a quarter or trimester credit. (I believe that students will ultimately try harder in class if they know they have to take a 10 week class to make up .25 credit).

  2. Peggy - Thank you for your comments and concerns. I will be sharing these with UEA and Senator Osmond.

  3. Jennifer,
    Summer School and Make-Up Packets are not taken for original credit. They are both "make-up" credit. A student must first have put in class time, completed part of the semester and received an "F" in the class before they can sign up for a "make-up" packet or for summer school.
    I have a daughter who was very motivated (concurrent enrollment) and selected to take a health class via on-line high school. It took her three years to complete 1/4 credit. Between the technology and the on-line teachers it was mess.
    Student lack motivation this has been part of education since the beginning of time. We must find ways to hold students and parents more accountable. Not just teachers. PTSA is a three legged stool but only one leg is being held accountable for the work.