Race to the Top in question?

Patrick Gibbons

Nevada has to eliminate a provision in the law that prohibits student testing data to be used in teacher evaluations. Eliminating this prohibition puts Nevada in competition for between $60 million and $175 million in additional federal funds.

The legislature has approved a bill that allows student testing data to be used, but the governor is considering vetoing it because the law seems to say that teachers should not be disciplined if their students perform poorly (i.e., don’t learn anything).

The provision reads,

The information must be considered, but must not be used as the sole criterion, in evaluating the performance of or taking disciplinary action against an individual teacher, paraprofessional or other employee.

So the question is whether or not the data can be used to dicipline bad teachers. At the very least, it appears that the new law would prohibit student testing data from being the sole criterion used to discipline teachers. If other criteria must be used, then what would be necessary to discipline or to get rid of bad teachers? Teacher attendence?

Still, legal writing can be confusing, so the main concern is whether or not teachers can be disciplined if they fail to actually teach their students anything. If teachers can’t be disciplined (or fired) if they can’t teach students, what is the point?

Additionally, the law needs to go a step further. Removing the old prohibition is meaningless if the school districts don’t take action and use student testing data as part of teacher evaluations. In fact, we’d bet they won’t do it unless ordered. Nevada needs to evaluate teachers using testing data because we need to know who the good teachers are and how to make average teachers even better. Importantly, we need to get bad teachers into a new profession.