Tiered licensure plan will build fear and distrust

The State Board of Education recently heard from stakeholder after stakeholder across Idaho expressing their nearly unanimous opposition against the Proposed Tiered Certification model for teachers in the state.

You would think that the overwhelmingly negative response from stakeholders, at a minimum, would cause the SBOE to tap the brakes on the plan to present the proposal to the Legislature this year in order to take some pause to perform some significant retooling on the rule as the public requested.

So you can imagine my frustration when SBOE Vice President Rod Lewis in a recent interview stated his goal of pushing ahead with the proposal for the upcoming legislative year instead of listening to nearly every citizen who testified with a request to put the brakes on this plan or scrap it altogether.

The reason, it seems, for the continued forward momentum push on the plan is that all those folks who testified is that the bulk of people who spoke didn’t have accurate information.

Chairwoman Emma Atchley stated recently in an Idaho Ed News interview, “We continue to see reports and comments that do not accurately reflect the actual provisions of the tiered certification and career ladder proposals.”

That’s surprising. Maybe I listened to a different group of stakeholders testify than Chairwoman Atchley heard. See, I saw some very educated citizens ranging from superintendents, school board members, principals, teachers, and parents present legitimate concerns one after another.

For example, I listened to a Boise principal’s concern that the Charlotte Danielson Framework, the tool which would be adopted under this model as part and parcel in establishing certification and compensation, is a deeply inappropriate method in setting salary and licensure.

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See, the creator of that tool, Charlotte Danielson, has bluntly urged states and districts across the nation to not use her program for establishing certification and compensation.

In an interview on the topic Dr. Danielson stated, “But the minute a teacher’s performance rating is a high-stakes matter, people are going to do whatever they have to do to be rated highly. And the things you have to do to be rated highly are exactly the opposite of things you’d do if you wanted to learn – you wouldn’t try anything new, you would be protective, you would be legalistic about the ratings, and you’d argue. None of that makes you open to improving your teaching.”

You would be forgiven for thinking that if the creator of the evaluation program adopted under this proposal advised against attaching her program to a high-stakes matter, namely certification and compensation, that surely our state would not do something so egregiously inappropriate as actually going directly against that expert’s advice by pushing to do just the opposite.

Wait, that’s exactly what Idaho is proposing? Aw, shucks! I thought we kept junk science out of our great Gem State’s classrooms.

If teachers become fearful that their evaluation under the Danielson Model becomes a high-stakes matter, we can expect to see outcomes the opposite of what this plan claims to achieve.

We can plan on seeing teachers and administrators forming a new relationship built upon fear and distrust.

Plan on seeing teachers resisting working with minority populations such as special education and English Language Learners over fear that these populations, which are statistically unlikely to demonstrate proficient standardized test scores in comparison to general education peers, over fear that low SBAC / ISAT 2.0 will impact their certification and compensation.

Expect to see teachers playing it safe in the classroom in an attempt to please an administrator instead of taking risks to experiment with new innovative ideas and methods of teaching that might not work the first time around and result in a low score on the Danielson Framework.

I reject making teachers fearful to work with minority student populations over fear that these populations may not produce proficient standardized test scores.

I reject placing fear in a classroom of an instructor trying something new and innovative during a lesson over concern that it will flop and lead to low score in the evaluation framework.

No. Students, parents, and teachers deserve better. The classroom has no place for junk science, and thus no room for the proposed Tiered Certification rule.

Levi B Cavener is a special education teacher in Caldwell, Idaho. He also runs the nonprofit IdahosPromise.org.

 

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