An email sent to schools by the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) this week was forwarded to me.
It’s gross evidence of a gross circumstance. The USOE decided that teacher evaluations (read: salaries) will be directly tied to Common Core/SAGE student results starting at the latest next fall (2015-2016 school year).
If teachers didn’t “teach to the Common Core test” before, they will now.
Their value as a teacher is, by USOE policy, to be determined by SGP –Student Growth Percentile, meaning: the amount of Common Core -based “improvement” that students showed on their Common Core SAGE tests.
It’s a heavy, disrespectful blow to teachers.
I have learned of some teachers who outwardly nod their heads “yes” to administrations and boards but in fact ignore the Common Core standards, continuing to teach the children in their better way, in the same way they always had, prior to Common Core.
How will independent minded teachers survive this new blow?
I don’t know.
I want to remind everyone that many times the USOE has proclaimed that teachers and schools may teach in the manner that in the local, professional judgment, the schools and teachers deem best. They say Common Core and its tests do not micromanage teachers.
How untrue that claim has been.
Actions speak louder than words. The state-level threat of teachers losing pay or status, if a particular teacher’s students don’t speed along the Common Core/SAGE test chain, is an almost insurmountable, powerful micromanagement of Utah’s teachers by its government.
Why did Utah allow the USOE to evolve this much power over us? The USOE, so monstrously staffed, so stuffed full of bureaucrats, consumes many of our precious education dollars but runs un-accountably –to anyone. And the USOE has zero authority under the Utah Constitution!
Only the State School Board holds constitutional authority of Utah’s education, checked and balanced by the legislature which hold the power of the purse. The USOE is a deformed, runaway growth, much bigger and heavier than its stem. Think about it: corrupt though the state board’s election system has been, still, the electing of State Board members has been at least theoretically representative; taxpayers can vote board members out of office.
Not so for the USOE and it’s leadership and staff. Taxpayers and teachers and parents have zero say in who gets to run our educational show at the USOE level. We can’t un-elect the writers of that letter, nor can we vote out the vast number of fat-salaried appointees who boss around the teachers, principals and students of this state.
Just as the federal U.S. Department of Education has no Constitutional validity, neither does the USOE have any state-constitutional validity.
I wish school administrators, school boards, the legislature and especially the state board would respond to the USOE with a little spit and vinegar– in defense of teachers and in non-acknowledgement of the assumed authority of the USOE and its policies, schmollisees.
Here’s that letter.
Date: Wed, 12 Nov 2014
From: “Estrada, Christelle” <Christelle.Estrada@schools.utah.gov>
To: “ALL ”
Subject: [Secondary ELA] Clarification – SAGE and SGPs
Colleagues: I am forwarding this clarification from both the Assessment and the Educator Effectiveness departments at USOE so that you can disseminate it to your fellow teachers.
This E-mail is to clarify possible misunderstandings and up-to-date information in regards to SAGE and Student Growth Percentiles (SGPs), and SLOs. The SAGE results for the 2013-14 school year that were released to the public on October 27, 2014 are valid and reliable assessment results. The results create a new baseline for student achievement. Educators and parents should seriously review these results and use the results with all of the other educational information and data to support students and assist them in improving their academic achievement.
We would like to clarify the relationship of SAGE results to Student Growth Percentiles (SGPs) and to Educator Evaluation in general. The SAGE results you have recently received may be used in all of the ways you have typically used test results to make instructional decisions, inform the school improvement process, inform professional development, and evaluate programs; however, the 2013-14 SGPs are not calculated for the purposes of educator evaluation, nor to identify schools for focus and priority status under the ESEA waiver.
Business rules for calculating SGPs for educator evaluations are currently being developed by the USOE Educator Effectiveness section in cooperation with the USOE Assessment section. District representatives including Superintendents, HR Directors, Curriculum Directors, Educator Evaluation Liaisons and other stakeholders will have an opportunity to give input to these business rules prior to their implementation in June of 2015. These business rules will be used to generate teacher-level SGPs that may be used for calculation of a portion of the educator evaluation as early as August 2015, although their use will not be required until the 2015-2016 school year.
Meanwhile, districts should continue to provide professional development and continue to build rater reliability in relation to teacher and leader observations. They should continue to implement their SLO development plans and make choices about how stakeholder input will be gathered and calculated. The Educator Effectiveness team continues to recommend that teachers of both tested and non-tested subjects learn how to develop and use SLOs to provide additional measurement information about student growth. SGPs will be available for calculating student growth for the 2014-15 school year (they are also available this year), and they will be available to apply to educator evaluation in 2015-16.
If you have additional questions about these topics, please continue to contact any of the following for additional clarification as needed: Linda Alder firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com> or 801-538-7923; Kerrie Naylor at firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com> or 801-538-7950; Jo Ellen Shaeffer, firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com> or 801-538-7811.
Please note Utah has a very broad public records law. Most written communication to or from our state employees regarding state business are public records available to the public and media upon request. Your email communication may be subject to public disclosure.