American Statistical Academy Would Not Support Amendment 3
Amendment 3 Ballot Language
- require teachers to be evaluated by a standards based performance evaluation system for which each local school district must receive state approval to continue receiving state and local funding;
- require teachers to be dismissed, retained, demoted, promoted and paid primarily using quantifiable student performance data as part of the evaluation system;
- require teachers to enter into contracts of three years or fewer with public school districts; and
- prohibit teachers from organizing or collectively bargaining regarding the design and implementation of the teacher evaluation system?
Amendment 3 Statutory Language
Section 3(d)All certificated staff shall be at will employees unless a contract is entered into between a school district and certificated staff (1) prior to the effective data of this section or (2) pursuant to the provisions of section 3(e), 3(f) and 3 (h) of this article….
Section 3(e) No school district receiving any state funding or local tax revenue funding shall enter into new contracts having a term or duration in excess of three years with certificated staff.
Section 3(f). Effective beginning July 1, 2015 and notwithstanding any provisions of this constitution, any school district receiving any state funding or local tax revenue shall develop and implement a standards based performance evaluation system approved by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The majority of such evaluation system shall be based upon quantifiable student performance data as measured by objective criteria and such evaluation system shall be used in (1) retaining, promoting, demoting, dismissing, removing, discharging and setting compensation for certificated staff; (2) modifying or terminating any contracts with certificated staff…
Think about the contradictions inherent in the statutory language itself. Certificated staff (i.e. teachers) shall be at will employees meaning they can be dismissed for any reason by their employer, the school district. They shall have such vulnerability to be terminated unless they have a contract with the district that was written before Amendment 3 might pass OR they have a contract which explicitly states they can be terminated for having students with low test scores.
This contract would have to contain terms that are deemed acceptable by the state Department of Education which really means that it is not a contract that the employer, the district, can freely enter into. They are bound by the decisions of a government bureaucracy. So in effect, all certificated staff will no longer be employees of the district since it is the state setting the terms of the contract. This applies whether your district receives state funding or not. Notice Section 3(e) lists state funding OR local tax revenue. So if you think your district can get out of this compliance by refusing state funding, guess again.
Now consider what the American Statistical Association has said about the use of student test scores for teacher evaluations in their statement on Value-Added Models (VAM)
- VAMs are complex statistical models, and high-level statistical expertise is needed to develop the models and interpret their results.
- Estimates from VAMs should always be accompanied by measures of precision and a discussion of the assumptions and possible limitations of the model. These limitations are particularly relevant if VAMs are used for high-stakes purposes. (like deciding if a teacher gets sacked or not)
- VAMs are generally based on standardized test scores, and do not directly measure potential teacher contributions toward other student outcomes.
- VAMs typically measure correlation, not causation: Effects – positive or negative – attributed to a teacher may actually be caused by other factors that are not captured in the model.
No offense intended DESE or local school districts, but I doubt your existing staff has the high level statistical expertise to interpret the results of the model forced on you by the state. ASA warns that the models have limitations which make them unsuitable for high stakes purposes.
Our governor wasn’t worried about whether the model was any good. He used the coalition of the willing to run a sham experiment on VAM expecting to back door it into the legislature. At least that’s what he told the National Governor’s Association. Another state led effort for teacher evaluations? I think not.
Local control of your teacher contracts was provided in the state constitution and state statute. Amendment 3 would undo those protections. Don’t be suckered in on Amendment 3.
Read the full ASA statement here.