Analysis of Education Reform Proposal

Later today, the State Senate will vote on Senate Bill 437, a bill relating to low-performing schools and school districts.  SB 437 was introduced to improve Wisconsin’s chances of securing funds in President Obama’s Race To The Top initiative.   

Setting the rhetoric aside, The MacIver Institute has put together a summary of the legislation, point by point.   

SECTION 1 (page 1, line 8 ) – Straightforward provision prohibiting tenure for principals.  “No principal or assistant principal may be granted tenure.”  

SECTION 2 (starts on page 2, line 1) –  Deals with low performing school districts and tools the local school board would use to fix the situation.

    1) If the State Superintendent determines a school district is in need of improvement for 4 consecutive years, the SCHOOL BOARD shall:

            A) Employ a standard curriculum that is aligned with   the state’s model academic standards.

            B) Use academic performance data to “differentiate   instruction to meet individual needs.”

            C) Implement a system of supports and strategies to   improve reading and mathematics instruction and   promote positive behavior.

            D) Provide additional learning time for students who   are struggling.

      2) If State Superintendent determines (page 2, line 19) that  a public school was in the lowest performing 5 percent of all  public schools in the state in the previous school year and is  located in a district in need of improvement for 4 years, the  SCHOOL BOARD shall:

            A) Use rigorous and equitable  performance evaluation   systems for teachers and principals (page 2, line 23)   including:

                  i) Annual performance evaluations including    improvement in pupil academic achievement and    observation-based performance assessments.     Improvement in pupil academic achievement is    “based on at least 2 measures.”
                  ii) A method of identifying mitigating factors, such    as mobility, large class size, insufficient    preparation time, insufficient paraprofessional    support, insufficient professional development and    insufficient resources that could affect a teacher’s  or principal’s performance.

            B) Adopt a policy establishing criteria for evaluating   whether the distribution of teachers and principals is equitable                   (page 3, line 10).   If the SCHOOL BOARD   determines the distribution is inequitable, the SCHOOL   BOARD shall:

                  i) Perform a comprehensive review of current    policies and constraints that prevent    low-performing schools from getting the best    teachers.

                  ii) Provide additional support to teachers and    principals for courses related to their professional    duties.

            C) Establish teacher and principal improvement   programs that include all of the following (page 3, line   24):

                  i) Supplemental mentoring for those w/    emergency licenses.

                  ii) Opportunities to pursue other professional certifications.

                  iii) 60 hours of professional development each  year.

                  iv) A joint labor-management program designed    to objectively identify teachers and principals who    continue to demonstrate serious performance    deficiencies after opportunities for improvement,    including weekly observation, mentoring, ongoing    conferences, modeling, and professional    development…(page 4, line 7).

            D) Adopt placement criteria for principals that include   performance evaluations and measures of pupil   academic achievement.

      3) If state superintendent (page 4, line 15) determines that  a school district has been in need of improvement for 4  years, the STATE SUPERINTENDENT MAY direct the school  board to do one or more of the following after consulting  with the board, the school district superintendent and each  collective bargaining unit:

            A) Implement or modify activities described above in   section 1, A-D.

            B) Implement (page 4, line 22) a new instructional   design, which may include expanded hours or   additional supports and services.

            C) Implement professional development programs that   focus on improving pupil academic achievement.

            D) Implement changes in administrative and personnel   structures that are consistent with applicable collective   bargaining agreements.

            E) Adopt accountability measures to monitor the school   district’s finances or “other interventions.”

      4) If the superintendent (page 5, line 6) determines that a  school is located within a district in need of improvement for  4 years and the school itself is in need of improvement for 5  years or among lowest performing 5 percent of schools in  the state, the SUPERINTENDENT MAY direct the school board  to do the following after consulting with the board, local  superintendent, and the collective bargaining units:

            A) Implement a new instructional design, including   expanded hours or additional pupil supports and   services.

            B) Create a school improvement council to make   recommendations to improve the school. 

      5) If the State Superintendent issues a directive under 3) or  4), the Superintendent shall:

            A) Notify the education committees and legislators   impacted.

            B) Provide a system of support to the school board   (page 6, line 1).

            C) If the school board receives a directive, the local   school board shall seek input from everyone.

      6) The state superintendent (page 6, line 6) shall  promulgate rules establishing criteria and procedures for  determining whether a school or school district is in need of  improvement and whether a school is among the lowest  performing 5 percent of all public schools in the state. 

      7) Nothing in this section alters or otherwise affects the  rights or remedies afforded school districts and school  district employees under federal or state law or any  applicable collective bargaining agreement.

SECTION 3 (page 6, line 13) – various statutory references.

SECTION 4 (page 7, line 1) – various new requirements of the MPS School Board.

      1) Master Facilities Plan – by July 1, 2011, evaluate all  buildings and develop master plan.

      2) School Board shall prepare a budget for each school

      3) School Board shall collaborate with nonprofit  organizations and government to provide pupils with social  services and educational support.

      4) School Board shall provide alternative methods for  graduating.

      5) If School Board determines money is available, the Board  shall participate in a educational research consortium.

      6) School Board shall conduct a parent survey annually  (page 8, line 5).

SECTION 5 (page 8, line 10) Any MPS school may apply to set up a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) pilot program for K – 5 if money is available.

SECTION 6 – If State Superintendent withholds state aid, school board my request a hearing.

SECTION 7 – “Comply with a directive issued by the state superintendent  under s. 118.42(3)(a) or (b).”

SECTION 8 –  Non-statutory provisions – In promulgating the rules required, the State superintendent shall consult with everyone impacted by this law.

SECTION 9 – Initial applicability – “The treatment of section 118.24(10) of the statutes first applies to contracts entered into, modified, or renewed on the effective of this subsection.