House passes bill addressing professional learning standards for teachers
HB 1345, passed by the House 91-7, was heard by the Senate Early Learning & K-12 education committee 3/19. This bill adopts a statewide definition of what constitutes effective professional learning for K-12 teachers. Professional learning is defined as a comprehensive, sustained, and collaborative approach to improving teachers' and principals' success in raising student achievement. Public schools and school districts would be tasked with establishing targeted learning opportunities that meet the definition. We support this bill.
Senate passes bill requiring state test scores be used in teacher evaluations
With a bipartisan vote of 26-23 (19 Republicans and 7 Democrats), the Senate passed SB 5748, a bill that requires state assessment data be used as one of multiple student growth measures in teacher and principal evaluations. This brings Washington a step closer to regaining its waiver from requirements of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Following the loss of the federal waiver last year, school districts in our state lost control of $40 million in federal Title I funds designed to help low-income students.
Priority education bill, SB 5744, doesn't move ahead of cutoff
did not make it to the Senate floor before the 3/18 cutoff. This bill would empower principals with greater decision-making authority in school-based hiring and end districts' forced placement policies. It also would require reduction-in-force policies be based on performance, not seniority. This bill has been a priority for us. We knew going into the session that enactment of this bill would be an uphill climb, particularly given staunch opposition from the state teachers' union and rural eastern Washington school district administrators.
Lawmakers consider cost of living adjustments for teacher pay
In its 2012 McCleary decision, the Washington Supreme Court found that the state relies too heavily on local levies to pay for basic education. A subsequent ruling from the court indicates that it may view paying teachers from local levy funds as unconstitutional as well. Currently, the state gives local school districts a set amount of funding per teacher, regardless of what district they work in, and districts in high cost areas typically use local levy funds to supplement the state funds and increase teacher pay. Budget writers in both the House and Senate are looking at ways to fix this practice, including tying state salary allocations to regional costs of living. (More detail here.) The state teachers union opposes this idea because they fear it could curtail local collective bargaining. Former Washington Research Council president Richard Davis discussed this issue in his most recent Seattle Times column.