In many ways, the recently resurrected Assembly Bill 5 would bring needed clarity and rigor to the performance evaluations of California's public school teachers. It nicely balances minimum requirements for all teachers and considerable control by local school districts. What a shame, then, that it also would weaken a key aspect of existing law, making the new bill unworthy of support when it comes before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday.
Teachers unions hate the idea of including student progress on the state standards tests in performance evaluations, but as one court recently ruled, that is state law. And it's a law that should stand.
Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes (D-Sylmar) faces a difficult task with his effort to update the Stull Act, a 1970s-vintage bill that defines some required elements for teacher evaluations. An almost unnoticed 1999 amendment by then-Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa specified that among those elements, schools must use student scores on the state tests. The reform movement and the Obama administration insist on the use of those tests to measure teacher effectiveness. But unions have vehemently opposed it, and the amendment was largely ignored until a June ruling in a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Unified School District. The judge ordered the district to start including test scores in evaluations.