MAINE LAW MANDATES NEW SYSTEM FOR TEACHER EVALUATIONS — A new Maine law requires districts to implement educator evaluation and professional development systems and authorized a new panel to develop the evaluations. The new body could also create criteria for local districts to follow as they set up their own evaluation plans for teachers and principals. The law makes distinctions between formative and summative rating systems, and a teacher’s professional development plan will be based on their summative rating. Under the law, superintendents and principals will have the right to not renew the contract of a teacher who has an unacceptable rating for two consecutive years. Evaluations developed locally must at least meet the law’s principles, including a stipulation that “measurements of student learning and growth must be a significant factor in the determination of the rating of an educator.” Sources: Education Week (4/16/12), Maine Public Law 635

HAWAII STATE BOARD APPROVES TEACHER EVALUATION PLAN — Days after a teacher evaluation law died in the Hawaii Legislature, the state board of education approved a new set of educator evaluations set to take effect statewide in the 2013-14 school year. The policies set by the board include provisions for professional development and pay related to student performance. The evaluations are also subject to due process clauses collectively bargained with teachers’ and principals’ unions. Hawaii has been under the gun to adopt new evaluation standards so it can meet the terms of its federal Race to the Top grant application, as the teachers’ union has been working under an imposed rather than agreed-upon contract since last summer. Failure to keep its promises means the state could forfeit most of the $75 million it was awarded last year. Sources: Hawaii NewsNow (4/17/12), Associated Press (4/16/12)  

NASBE AWARDS GRANTS TO HELP STATES DEVELOP SCHOOL NUTRITION POLICIES — The National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) awarded grants to seven state boards of education to develop and implement policies to improve school nutrition. Connecticut, Ohio, and West Virginia will each receive $15,000 over three-years, while Arkansas, Kentucky, Michigan, and North Carolina will each receive $6,000, two-year awards to continue work in this area. Follow this link for more about the awards.

ALABAMA EDUCATION DEPARTMENT TAKES OVER BIRMINGHAM SCHOOL BOARD — Shortly after the Alabama State Board of Education approved an investigation into governance of the Birmingham school system, the Alabama Education Department effectively took over the Birmingham district. State Superintendent Tommy Bice ordered the city school board not to do any non-routine business without his permission until after the investigation is complete. The Birmingham board members have been at odds with the district chief and with each other, so Bice’s order means the panel cannot fire its superintendent. After recent meetings, some local board members asked for the state to get involved, and some members even alleged violations of the state’s open public meetings law. The state board resolution approving the investigation said the tumult has led to “a pattern of decision making, action and inaction that has impeded or prevented implementation of plans, initiatives and programs” to meet the district’s obligations. Source: Birmingham News (4/13/12)

MISSOURI BOARD REVOKES CHARTER OF SOME ST. LOUIS SCHOOLS — The Missouri State Board of Education revoked the charters of all Imagine charter schools in St. Louis, which will close at the end of the school year. The schools have a collective history of low performance, and in March their sponsor, Missouri Baptist University, gave up its authority over the schools. More than 3,800 students attend the Imagine schools, several of which were already set to be closed because of poor performance. “It is clear that the state board of education takes seriously its most constitutional and moral responsibilities for the quality of education that children receive in Missouri public schools,” said board member Mike Jones. Source: stltoday.com (4/17/12)

COLORADO BOARD CREATES RULES FOR TEACHER EVALUATION APPEALS PROCESS — The Colorado State Board of Education adopted a set of rules to govern appeals by teachers who receive two consecutive low performance ratings. Appeals can only be based on an evaluator incorrectly following the requirements of the rating system, or incorrect data being used in the process. The local superintendent or designated administrator makes a final decision in the appeals process. Pending reviews by the state attorney general and the legislature, the rules would become effective in the 2015-16 school year. Sources: EdNewsColorado (4/11/12), Colorado Department of Education press release (4/12/12)

FEDERAL UPDATE:  GAO Report Finds Districts Face Difficulties Meeting SIG Requirements — A new Government Accounting Office (GAO) report concluded that states and local school districts faced challenges sustaining reform efforts due to lack of capacity and lack of extensive planning and coordination among various stakeholders. The study, School Improvement Grants: Education Should Take Additional Steps to Enhance Accountability for Schools and Contractors, GAO-12-373, also discovered that several states had little evidence about school performance under the SIG program when making decisions to renew grants at the local level. Additionally, school districts used most of their funding to secure contractors for various services, and contractor evaluations were inconsistent and not timed with grant renewal discussions. The report recommends the U.S. Department of Education provide additional support to states in making evidenced-based grant renewal decisions, as well as ensuring contractors’ performance at the local level are reviewed. Source: Government Accounting Office (4/11/12)

ARIZONA BOARD TO DEVELOP CURRICULUM FOR NEW ELECTIVE COURSE ON THE BIBLE  A new law makes Arizona one of six states that allow public high schools to offer an elective class on the role the Bible plays in Western culture. The measure requires the state board of education to develop a curriculum for the course. However, opponents of the bill argue that a focus on Christianity could make the law unconstitutional. Sources: Tucson Citizen (4/17/12), Associated Press (4/17/12)

VIRGINIA REVISITS PHYS. ED. GUIDELINES BILL; GOVERNOR’S SIGNATURE EXPECTED — Less than a month after Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell vetoed a bill that called for the state board of education to develop physical education regulations for districts, an amended version of that bill could become law as soon as next week. The amended legislation would require the state board to develop non-mandatory physical education guidelines for elementary and middle schools. McDonnell vetoed the prior measure on the grounds that it created unfunded mandates by requiring K-8 students get 150 minutes of physical education every week. Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch (4/15/12)

SOUTH CAROLINA STATE BOARD EXPANDS TEACH FOR AMERICA PARTICIPATION — The South Carolina State Board of Education agreed by a 7-6 vote to expand the state’s partnership with Teach for America (TFA) to place more teachers in underprivileged schools. The state’s original plan to recruit a set number of teachers was not enough to meet the staffing needs of every district, so the board will designate regions and districts where TFA recruits can serve across the state beginning this year. Opponents fear broadening the program will lessen teaching opportunities for South Carolina teacher prep graduates. Source: Augusta Chronicle (4/13/12)

 

** ANNOUNCEMENTS **

 

LEADERSHIP FOR HEALTHY COMMUNITIES, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation program, will host a webinar, “Linking Policies to Improve Public Safety with Preventing Childhood Obesity,” April 26 at 2 p.m. The event coincides with the release of its new report, Making the Connection: Linking Policies to Improve Public Safety with Preventing Childhood Obesity. For more information or to register, go to http://bit.ly/Iqt76f.

THE 10TH ANNUAL HEALTHY SCHOOLS DAY, focused on the promotion of healthy and green indoor learning environments in schools, is coming up April 24. To find out more about the day or to plan and register an event as part of the occasion, go to http://www.nationalhealthyschoolsday.org/.

FIND OUT WHAT “GREEN CLEANING” CAN MEAN FOR SCHOOLS in the latest issue of NASBE’s award-winning journal, The State Education Standard. Read “Green Cleaning Schools” to learn just exactly what “green cleaning” means, how to recognize certified green products, examples of how states have implemented green cleaning policies, and more! Go to http://goo.gl/js1hU to purchase copies or examine downloadable articles.

NAEP WEBINAR TO ADDRESS COMMON CORE — The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) will host a webinar at 4 p.m. April 25 on how districts can use NAEP data to help the transition to meeting the Common Core standards. The event will feature leaders from seven urban districts who are putting the NAEP data to use. For more, go to http://www.nagb.gov/commoncore-tuda/webinar/.

WANT TO KEEP UP WITH NASBE on your Android phone? No problem. Just go to http://bit.ly/pEmZla or search NASBE in the Android marketplace to download and get started with the NASBE Now app!