Teacher Accountability Measure Clears Committee; Union Bosses Seethe

Yesterday, HB 1033 sailed through Louisiana’s House Education Committee on a unanimous vote.

The bill, authored by Rep. Frank Hoffman (R-West Monroe), would subject the state’s public school teachers to yearly reviews based on growth of student achievement by school principals, using what’s called a “value added model.” It’s one of two bills being attacked in radio ads statewide by the Louisiana Federation of Teachers and the Louisiana Association of Educators.

In yesterday’s hearing, the heads of those two unions took aim at the bill, with limited effect. LFT president Steve Monaghan insisted on several amendments, two of which Hoffman agreed to. The bill was changed to include a provision that would allow local school boards discretion to retain a teacher who failed to meet student achievement benchmarks or dismiss a teacher who did meet the required goals. Supporting evidence would be required in either case. Hoffman also agreed to a two-year window for implementation of the yearly reviews, after which the law would be sunsetted and require re-enactment.

This young science has both advocates and doubters in the academic community,” Monaghan said. “We believe it is problematic to build a value-added model into law without the benefit of an adequate field test.”

But LAE president Joyce Haynes was more rigid.

“We oppose the use of standardized tests to evaluate teachers,” she said.

HB 1033 still faces significant opposition on the House floor. Perhaps the issue that will dog the bill most significantly is the question of evaluating teachers outside of core subjects like English, math and science. Rep. John Bel Edwards (D-Amite), the chairman of the House Democrat caucus, called the bill a “half-baked thing” because subjects like physical education and music aren’t evaluated as well as the core subjects are in the model proposed in the bill.

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