By Jerry Cornfield
Gov. Jay Inslee will meet with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Monday to discuss the federal agency’s demand that Washington change its teacher evaluation system or risk losing millions of federal dollars for its public schools.
The Department of Education has notified the state it must make student growth data a factor in evaluating the performance of teachers if wants to continue receiving a waiver from elements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Current Washington law says test scores can be used in evaluations but does not mandate it.
“I think (the governor) is trying to determine if the Department of Education will let Washington continue implementing the evaluation system we have or if we must pursue a different legislative path,” said Inslee spokeswoman Jaime Smith.
With the waiver, the state nets roughly $44 million that is funneled to school districts and spent on instruction for the lowest performing students. Without the waiver, the money would still come to the state but not be passed onto the districts.
The Washington Education Association and many Democratic lawmakers don’t want the evaluation system revised and aren’t convinced the federal agency will revoke the waiver.
Republican senators crafted a bill to make the change requested by Duncan but it died on the floor of the state Senate Tuesday. It failed on a 19-28 margin as 21 Democrats and seven conservative Republicans united against it.
Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell, one of those voting against the bill, is drafting a letter outlining opponents’ reasons. She said she will ask U.S. Sen. Patty Murray to deliver it to Duncan next week.