On February 19th, Glynis Kazanjian’s article was posted on MarylandReporter.com stating that Superintendent Lowery supports the delay of teacher evaluations based on the Common Core tests, which are still under construction, until the 2016-2017 school year. When accepting the Common Core standards, Maryland also passed the Education Reform Act of 2010, which granted MSDE the power to approve guidelines for teacher performance evaluations. Kazanjian quotes Sean Johnson, legislative director of Maryland Student Education Association (MSEA), “Teacher evaluation plans from seven of Maryland’s school districts were rejected by the state because they did not include test scores as 20% of the criteria for evaluating teachers.”
Kazanjian’s article was revised a week later with the addition: “In almost allof Maryland’s school systems except Montgomery and Frederick, teacher evaluationsare nowpartly based on student testscores based on the Common Core standards.”The following sentence was stricken from the original article: “Part of the new curriculum requires annual teacher evaluations to be based on standardized student test scores.”
Senator Madaleno created SB910 to require MSDE to submit a request for a waiver from the ESEA Act to the Legislative Policy Committee of the General Assembly for review and comment before it can be sent to the USDE. On April 2nd, HB1167, permitting the delayed accountability measures, passed the Legislature and is now awaiting approval from Governor O’Malley.
In addition to concerns regarding teacher evaluation, continued budget cuts are causing concern during the advent of the CCSS and PARCC assessments. Teaching positions have been eliminated in Maryland’s districts in recent years; nearly 100 teachers faced layoffs last year in Harford County though many were able to be rehired.
While teachers in Baltimore County Public Schools are not being laid off, positions continue to be excessed annually. Teachers are then considered “priority transfers,” which create increasing class sizes and workloads with fewer teaching positions allotted per school. Next year, many of Baltimore County’s high school teachers will teach six classes with class sizes hovering around thirty students per class. Designing and implementing effective instruction to prepare 180 students for college and career readiness in accordance with the CCSS will be a daunting task regardless of teacher evaluations. In addition to a reduction in special education staffing and other teaching positions at the secondary level, technology teaching positions are being cut in elementary schools in Baltimore County Public Schools. NCTE offers an array of apt Position Statements on Class Sizes and Workload that elaborate on the challenges being faced by teachers who are striving to help all students improve in their reading, writing, speaking and listening skills per the CCSS.
In September, Liz Bowie explored Baltimore County Public Schools’ teachers’ concerns regarding sudden curricular changes and extended hours spent planning, accessing the curriculum, and adjusting to these shifts in an article in The Baltimore Sun; in response, Superintendent Dance was quoted, “‘We are building the plane as we fly it,’ he said, adding, ‘but let’s be clear our passengers are safe.’”