Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

W.VA. BOARD OF EDUCATION ; Teacher Evaluation Mandate Halted, Naloxone Policy OK'd

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

W.VA. BOARD OF EDUCATION ; Teacher Evaluation Mandate Halted, Naloxone Policy OK'd

Article excerpt

The West Virginia Board of Education, in voice votes with no nays heard, approved this week a policy waiver that again stops the mandate that 15 percent of annual evaluations for math and English language arts teachers be based on their students' improvement in standardized test scores over last school year. The state school board also OK'd a policy change that allows schools to stock naloxone, a drug that can save people from overdoses on heroin and other opioids.

Michele Blatt, the state Department of Education's chief accountability officer, said that since President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act in December the federal government no longer will require the state to ever move forward with basing 15 percent of evaluations off students' improvement in end-of-year standardized test scores. The 15 percent requirement was one of the criteria the state was supposed to meet to continue to receive freedom from the mandates of No Child Left Behind, the wide- ranging federal education law that the Every Student Succeeds Act replaced.

The state school board delayed moving forward with the 15 percent requirement for the past two school years, and State Schools Superintendent Michael Martirano said in October that he didn't support the "separate systems for evaluating teachers, saying the discrepancy could cause grievances and other issues.

Blatt said the waiver approved this week also newly stops the requirement that 5 percent of teacher evaluations be based on school- wide student improvement in test scores, and said the department will convene teachers, teacher union representatives, principals, lawmakers and other interested parties to help develop a permanent new evaluation policy that wouldn't require further waivers after it takes effect next school year.

Twenty percent of evaluations this school year now will be based on improvement in "student learning goals that teachers get to choose and the remaining 80 percent will continue to be based on observations from principals and assistant principals, plus data teachers provide to support what ratings they should receive.

Bad evaluations eventually can lead to firings, but Blatt said teachers usually get about 27 weeks of help in fixing identified issues before dismissal.

Jackson, who last year said he wanted to move forward with basing the 15 percent off standardized tests, said the waiver is "exactly the right move.

"The longer we kept looking at this, it just seemed less and less fair to me, that we're really only talking about two sets of teachers, English language arts and math teachers, Jackson said. …

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