Accountability Is Still the Word
School and educator accountability continues to occupy the time and minds of educators and legislators nationally. Wyoming is no exception.
WEA has high hopes that Wyoming will be choosing the high road by taking the time to be thoughtful and deliberate in the development and implementation of our accountability system. We appear to be learning from the mistakes of some other states that jumped into the fray before thoroughly examining the consequences, both intended and unintended, of the decisions and legislation around education accountability they have implemented.
The Advisory Committee to the Select Committee on Statewide Education Accountability, which is comprised of representatives of all K-12 education stakeholders as well as of other entities such as the business community, has been working many hours to flesh out the rules and definitions pertaining to school accountability.
The State Board of Education, too, has devoted much time to the topic of accountability. An important recommendation coming from that body to the Legislature is not to pursue the concept of end-of-course assessments.
A Professional Judgment Panel (PJP), under the direction of a national consultant hired by the State Board of Ed., was created and convened to make specific recommendations as to the “cut scores” of the legislatively-specified definitions. Although far from decided at this point, the recommendations for Phase 1 from the PJP would potentially mean that, beginning in SY 2013-14, schools would be given overall school-level performance ratings based on the following indicators and targets:
– for Achievement, that schools must have 75% of their students at or above Proficient on PAWS or PAWS-ALT in order to be classified as Meeting the Target, and 87% at or above Proficient to be classified as Exceeds the Target;
– for Equity, that schools must have reduced their proportion of Below Basic students between 2011 and 2012 by 6% to Meet the Target, and by 20% to be classified as Exceeding the Target;
– for College- and Career-Readiness (or Readiness), that schools must graduate at least 85% of their high school students within four years OR must have at least 20% of their students achieve the ACT Composite Benchmark to Meet the Target, and must attain BOTH of these criteria to be classified as Exceeding the Target;
– for Growth, that schools must attain a median growth percentile of 50 to Meet the Target, and a median growth percentile of 60 to Exceed the Target.
The Advisory Committee has done a significant amount of work this year on Phase 2, individual educator accountability and evaluation system recommendations, as well as starting to draft a school leader evaluation system. Key information at this point is that teacher evaluation in the future is recommended to be based 80% on four domains of professional practice and 20% on student performance data.
During the week of December 10, the Select Committee on Accountability will meet to receive reports and updates from the Department of Education, the Educational Liaisons to the Legislative Service Office, the Advisory Committee, and others, as well as to begin working the draft legislation. The two bills currently on their agenda pertain to Phases 1 and 2 of accountability. The Joint Education Committee will also be meeting that week and will be receiving reports, but it appears that most of their meeting will be for consideration of three draft bills: school finance amendments, energy and natural resource education initiative, and high school equivalency certificates.
As always, WEA will be attending and monitoring these meetings in order to obtain the most current information for you, our members. If you have any questions about accountability, please contact our office.
Legislative Session Starts January 8th, 2013
On January 8th the Wyoming Legislature will convene for the 2013 general session. During the 40-day session, the Legislature will work on many issues, including school accountability, as well as the supplemental budget. The Governor has submitted his supplemental budget to the Joint Appropriations Committee, and they will bring their recommendations to the Legislature.
WEA has been active in following the issues that affect our members. President Vetter and I have attended meetings of the Select Committee on Statewide Education Accountability, the SF 70 Advisory Committee, Joint Education Committee, Joint Appropriations Committee, and others. We have worked with members of the Education Coalition to monitor these issues as well as to provide input.
The Select Committee on Statewide Educational Accountability, along with the SF 70 Advisory Committee, worked on school accountability during the interim and is drafting accountability legislation that will begin with holding schools accountable in the 2013-2014 school year. The issue of individual educator accountability was also worked on during the 2012 interim, and that work will continue in the 2013 interim. Please see Kathy Scheurman’s article on accountability in this issue for more information.
School funding has not received an external cost adjustment (ECA) for three years. Both the Joint Education Committee and the Joint Appropriations Committee have recommended that there be no ECA next year. WEA has met with the Education Coalition and decided to pursue an increase this year. School districts have trimmed budgets as much as possible and are now starting to talk about cuts. We will work with the Education Coalition on the ECA issue.
We continue to monitor issues related to the Wyoming Retirement System (WRS). WEA has worked proactively as a member of the Coalition for a Healthy Retirement System to increase public awareness. We participated in a series of town hall meetings sponsored by the coalition to help educate members of the WRS. Please see the article on the town hall meetings in this issue for more information.
Please consider becoming a Legislative Contact Team (LCT) member. Local members involved on LCTs serve as a vital link to legislators by providing them information about issues important to our members. This contact should occur not only when the legislature is in session but on a year-round basis. We are lucky to live in a state where we have access to the individuals who represent us and the ability to make our positions known. Contact your local president if you are interested in serving.
WEA will hold its annual RBL Conference (Research, Bargaining, and Lobbying) on January 27th and 28th in Cheyenne. This is a great opportunity to learn more information that can help in talking with legislators, as well as working back in your local district. If you are interested, please contact Julie Schwindt at email@example.com or at 1-800-442-2395 ext. 103, or Ken Decaria at firstname.lastname@example.org or at ext. 106.
Sign up for the “WEA Legislative Update.” Keep informed of what is happening during the legislative session. To sign up for the update, send an e-mail to email@example.com.
Thanks for all you do for Wyoming education. If you have questions, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.