Parnell Wants Student Performance Part of Teacher Evals

Governor Sean Parnell wants the State Board of Education to make student performance an important part of teacher evaluations. The board has been working for months on drafting a new rule that bases 20 percent of a teacher’s evaluation on student achievement. The Governor wrote a letter to the board this week, asking to boost that figure to 50 percent.

He says it’s important to reward effective teaching:

“About 20 other states have set the bar higher already and said that 30 percent to 50 percent of their teacher evaluations will be based on student learning,” he said. “And I felt it was really time for Alaskans to have a bar set higher and frankly to demonstrate what the good teachers can do.”

The state needs to link part of teacher evaluations with student performance to receive a waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act.

The teacher union NEA-Alaska has voiced concerns to the state and the Board of Education on the proposed regulation. The group’s president Ron Furher was surprised to hear the governor was weighing in so late in the months long process to draft the rule.

He says the organization is not opposed to linking some part of a teacher’s evaluation to student achievement. But he says the way the rule is currently written, it doesn’t give enough weight to other areas of teacher performance:

“How many students have special needs?” Furher asked. “How many students are English as a second language? How many students have learning disabilities? So to say we’re going to do one shot, one take and you’re going to be judged on that we believe is unfair.”

Furher says this is a hot topic in Alaska education right now. He says over 400 people have weighed in on the proposed regulation. The Department of Education and Early Development is taking comments on the plan until November 30th. The proposal would not link teacher pay to student performance.

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Annie Feidt is the Managing Editor for Alaska's Energy Desk, a collaboration between Alaska Public Media in Anchorage, KTOO Public Media in Juneau and KUCB in Unalaska. Her reporting has taken her searching for polar bears on the Chukchi Sea ice, out to remote checkpoints on the Iditarod Trail, and up on the Eklutna Glacier with scientists studying its retreat. Her stories have been heard nationally on NPR and Marketplace. Annie’s career in radio journalism began in 1998 at Minnesota Public Radio, where she produced the regional edition of All Things Considered. She moved to Anchorage in 2004 with her husband, intending to stay in the 49th state just a few years. She has no plans to leave anytime soon. afeidt (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8443 | About Annie