Today, the New York Times reported that the Department of Education is proposing a rule that favor states that link student achievement to teacher performance evaluation. I have been heavily critical of President Barack Obama and his agenda, but in this case I think it should be noted that his administration is doing the right thing.
It seems Education Secretary Arne Duncan is, in this area of education reform, seems to be having something of a positive impact. We’ll have to wait and see if the rule goes through – the teachers unions are promising to weigh in aggressively during the proposal’s public comment period – but if it does, this represents forward progress. It shouldn’t even be an issue in the first place, of course (connecting student achievement and teacher performance is the most obvious thing in the world), but it has been because of the unions, and now common sense is striking back.
The rule would bar states that have laws which prevent school district consideration of achievement data in teacher evaluation from receiving money from a special fund over this year and next. Objectively and thoroughly evaluation teacher performance necessarily includes looking at how well students are performing, and is one of the cornerstones to rational, student-centered, education policy. I’ll give Duncan and Obama props on this one. Let’s hope they carry this reform ethos into other areas of desperately needed education reform.
I don’t believe either Missouri or Kansas has such laws, so they should still be eligible for support from the $4.3 billion dollar Race to the Top fund.