The Value Added Model is still a Model that Disvalues

The Value Added Model is still a Model that Disvalues

wpid-Cavener-Headshot.jpgBy Levi B Cavener

Superintendent Tom Luna, last week, was kind enough to respond to my concerned regarding SBAC testing and the Value Added Model (VAM) for special education students.  I am appreciative of his feedback, but I am critical of several elements in his response.

I am concerned that the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC, appointed by Luna) is not working collaboratively with the Tiered Licensure Committee.  I have heard several comments from this committee that they have not seen recommendations from the TAC committee.  This concerns me greatly.

Keep in mind neither the Tiered Licensure committee, nor the TAC committee, has the ability to send legislation to the Governor’s desk; however, also keep in mind that the TAC committee likely has a greater influence than a Governor’s task force committee considering the political bulwark that surrounds the Superintendent.

More importantly my concern is this:  It appears to me the Task Force Committee is under no obligation to accept the recommendations of the TAC committee.  Good enough.  However, also keep the reciprocal in mind:  the TAC committee, Luna (and/or predecessor) is under no obligation to accept the task force recommendations either.

I suppose my point is this:  If these two groups are working on the very same issue, why are they not then working collaboratively in addressing this issue?  Joint committee meetings?  Nope.  Joint hearings?  Nope.  These members might be corresponding via other measures; however, as a citizen the public deserves a perspective on what collaboration is occurring between these groups.  To date as open public record: Nada.  Zip.  Zero.

The TAC committee also has not developed formalized guidelines for districts dealing with special education, English language learners, and otherwise “special” populations of students (such as alternative/academy schools).  This is deeply concerning as I have witnessed the direct impact of the earlier “Pay For Performance Model.”

In my district, the only school that did not receive additional compensation was our district’s alternative school.  In this case, the teachers who chose to work with the hardest students were rewarded by watching all other schools make criterion proficient progress along with a bonus in their compensation, while not receiving any additional compensation of their own.  In other words, don’t expect to be valued if you work with the hardest students; in fact, anticipate being negatively compensated for such an activity.

Superintendent Luna commented that there may (or may not) be an appeal process in place by the time these recommendations become law.  This is disturbing as the employment and livelihood of such instructors enters limbo during this time: Will teachers’ certification remain in force during this duration?  Will teachers be placed on paid leave while the appeal process works it way through?  I can think of no other profession, even doctors, that is subject to such an arbitrary process.  Even then, we have no idea what this appeal process might look like.

For example, Penni Cyr, Idaho Education Association President, reminded me that the current TAC committee language has the potential to not only reprimand a teacher financially, but in a first in the entire nation would subject the certification of a teacher in the hands of a local administrator instead of the Idaho Professional Standards Committee which has competently been arbitrators of this power.

This, along with the proposed “Luna” legislation which was soundly rejected by voters across the state, is an incredible deviation in the accepted standards of discipline and ethics preservation.  This provision would allow any local administrator to not only dictate his staffs’ pay, but also determine if teachers should retain certification in general.

In other words, a local qualm with an administrator may result in a teacher being punished not only financially, but would place the entire liscence on the block.

I want to be clear here: one person, on one evaluation, is not qualified to determine if a teacher’s certification (regardless of compensation) is subject to revocation. PERIOD.

Under the proposed TAC model, this is the case.  The Professional Standards Committee should be squawking in terror over this abuse of power; yet, I haven’t seen a single public response.

Professions have a duty and obligation to relegate functional rules regarding ethical standards for their profession; for decades, the Idaho Professional Standards Commission has done just this.  The proposed TAC regulation not only is arbitarary, but it echoes the “Luna Laws” in its attempts to disenfranchise citizens from the local education process; something that conservatives claim to celebrate.

Idaho teachers deserve to speak with the community at large about the progress (or reasons for lack of progress) in front of a public forum of the citizen’s who fund their jobs.  A single administrator, on a single evaluation, is not capable of making this determination, and leaves the community disenfranchised.  Such a system will result in a diaspora of teachers to neighboring states, perhaps even paying less, where their lscense is not in jeopardy of a single evaluation.

If we want the best educators in Idaho, then assure them that there is a fair and unbiased system in place (such as the Idaho Professional Standards Commission) that will fairly treat any claim that is so egregious as to revoke licensure,  Partisan, local, town squabbles have no place in excellence of education.  I thought an incredible state, such as ours, could have figured this out by now.



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