Nothing like kicking a dead-broke state right smack in the wallet:
California could lose out on millions of federal education dollars unless legislators change a law that prevents it from using student test scores to measure teachers’ performance, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is expected to announce in a speech today.
California has among the worst records of any state in collecting and using data to evaluate teachers and schools. Moreover, a 2006 law that created a teacher database explicitly prohibited the use of student test scores to hold teachers accountable on a statewide basis, although it did not mention local districts. […]In recent public appearances, Duncan singled out California’s law as “ridiculous” and “mind-boggling,” saying that it prevents the state from identifying which of the state’s 300,000 teachers are effective and which are not.
“No one in California can tell you which teacher is in which category,” Duncan said at one meeting of education officials. “Something is wrong with that picture.”
If Duncan stands firm on his position, state legislators may have to renegotiate the sensitive issue with the state’s powerful teachers unions, which are concerned that their local collective bargaining agreements would be trumped by state law.
“We would have some very serious discussions with the Legislature” if they tried to rewrite the 2006 legislation, said David Sanchez, president of the California Teachers Assn.
“We’d suggest the state look very carefully at that before they made that move,” said Gary Ravani, an official with the California Federation of Teachers. […]
Regardless of the interpretation of the law, few would dispute that California is behind on data collection.
California ranks 41st among states in its use of education data, according to a 2008 survey by the Data Quality Campaign, a nonprofit based in Austin, Texas.
The federal guidelines have been widely anticipated for months and two other states, Arizona and Indiana, recently struck similar language from their laws to qualify for Race to the Top funds, according to the Data Quality Campaign.
fn: For extra credit, name the song.