Missouri Teacher Performance Evaluation Amendment (2014)

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A Missouri Teacher Performance Evaluation Amendment may appear on the November 4, 2014 election ballot in the state of Missouri as an initiated constitutional amendment. If approved by voters, this measure would implement teacher performance evaluations that would be used to determine whether a teacher should be dismissed, retained, demoted or promoted. It would also prevent teachers from collectively bargaining over the terms of these evaluations.[1]

If approved, the measure would add six subsections to Section 3 of Article IX of the Missouri Constitution.[1]

Background

The use of performance evaluation for educator retention and salaries has been a contentious topic in education reform. Supporters tout its ability to reward teachers based on classroom success, which should lead to better outcomes for students. Many teachers associations object to the use of student performance on standardized tests to determine teacher pay. The National Education Association (NEA) warns that using student test scores to determine educator salaries "only [measures] a narrow piece of the teacher’s work." Supporters of such measures, however, point out that student outcomes are part of the employment objectives of teachers and, therefore, it makes sense to have a system that holds teachers accountable for those outcomes.[2]

The increased support for and institutionalization of so-called "pay-for-performance" systems has also led to extensive research on their impacts on teacher performance and student outcomes. According to a 2010 literature review by the Kamehameha Schools' Research and Evaluation Division, "There is highly visible support for linking teacher quality and compensation, based in part on the weak links between teacher experience and educational credentials and student achievement." The review also noted, "The most promising systems are based on a collaborative effort from teachers and administrators that honors multiple perspectives and builds trust."[3]

Strict pay-for-performance based on standardized test scores is not the only alternative method to knowledge or skill-based evaluation systems. The performance being measured can be at an individual or institutional level. A possible alteration could be combining individual level skill-based assessments and school level performance based assessments. Another could be providing additional pay on top of a set salary for meeting skill, evaluation or student performance requirements.[3]

Text of measure

Missouri Constitution
Flag of Missouri.png
Preamble
Articles
IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXIXIIXIII

The official ballot text reads as follows:[1]

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:

  • Require teachers to be evaluated by a standards based performance evaluation system for which each local school district must receive state approval to continue receiving state and local funding;
  • Require teachers to be dismissed, retained, demoted, promoted and paid primarily using quantifiable student performance data as part of the evaluation system;
  • Require teachers to enter into contracts of three years or fewer with public school districts; and prohibit teachers from organizing or collectively bargaining regarding the design and implementation of the teacher evaluation system?

[4]

Constitutional changes

If approved, the measure would add six subsections, (d) through (i) inclusively, to Section 3 of Article IX of the Missouri Constitution. The new sections would read as follows:[5]

Section 3(d). All certified staff shall be at will employees unless a contract is entered into between a school district and certificated staff (1) prior to the effective date of this section; or (2) pursuant to the provisions of section 3(e), 3(f), and 3(h) of this article. "Certified staff," as used in this article, shall mean employees of a school district who hold a valid certificate to teach in the State of Missouri.

Section 3(e). No school district receiving any state funding or local tax revenue funding shall enter into new contracts having a term or duration in excess of three years with certificated staff.

Section 3(f). Effective beginning July 1, 2014, and notwithstanding any provision of this constitution, any school district receiving any state funding or local tax revenue shall develop and implement a standards based performance evaluation system approved by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The majority of such evaluation system shall be based upon quantifiable student performance data as measured by objective criteria and such evaluation system shall be used in (1) retaining, promoting, demoting, dismissing, removing, discharging and setting compensation for certificated staff; (2) modifying or terminating any contracts with certificated staff; and (3) placing on leave of absence any certificated staff because of a decrease in pupil enrollment, school district reorganization or the financial condition or the school district.

Section 3(g). Nothing in section 3(f) shall prevent a school district from demoting, removing, discharging, or terminating a contract with certificated staff for one or more of the following causes: (1) physical or mental condition unfitting him to instruct or associate with children; (2) immoral conduct; (3) incompetency, inefficiency or insubordination in line of duty; (4) willful or persistent violation of, or failure to obey, state laws or regulations; (5) excessive or unreasonable absence from performance of duties; or (6) conviction of a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude.

Section 3(h). In any suit to challenge a school district's decision regarding retention, promotion, demotion, dismissal, removal, discharge, modification or termination of contracts, or setting compensation of certified staff, except for decisions made for any of the causes listed in section 3(g) of this Article, the person bringing such suit must establish that the school district failed to properly utilize the standards based performance evaluation system as referenced in Section 3(f) of this Article.

Section 3(i). Certificated staff shall retain the right to organize and to bargain collectively as provided in article I, section 29 of this Constitution, expect with respect to the design and implementation of the performance based evaluation system established in this article, and as otherwise referenced in this article.[4]

Fiscal impact

According to the official ballot title published by the secretary of state:[1]

Decisions by school districts regarding provisions allowed or required by this proposal and their implementation will influence the potential costs or savings impacting each district. Significant potential costs may be incurred by the state and/or the districts if new/additional evaluation instruments must be developed to satisfy the proposal’s performance evaluation requirements. [4]

Support

MO Teach Great logo.png

Supporters

This measure's proposal was sponsored by Marc Ellinger, an attorney for the Teach Great campaign, which is run by the Children's Education Council of Missouri.[1][6]

Organizations

  • Teach Great[6]
  • Children's Education Council of Missouri (CECM)[6]

Individuals

  • Marc Ellinger, attorney at Blitz, Bardgett & Deutsch LLC.[6]
  • Stephanie Bell, attorney at Blitz, Bardgett & Deutsch LLC.[6]
  • Rex Sinquefield, retired financial executive[6]

Arguments

The Children's Education Council of Missouri, which is running the Teach Great campaign, provides the following arguments in favor of the amendment:

  • ensure teachers are evaluated based on an objective measure: their students’ academic growth;
  • protect great teachers and their students by requiring teachers to be dismissed, retained, demoted, promoted, and paid primarily using quantifiable student performance data as part of the evaluation system;
  • end the unfair “last-in-first-out” rule, which often means that effective teachers are let go, while ineffective teachers stay;
  • require teachers to enter into contracts of three years or fewer with public school districts, so that their performance can be re-evaluated as it would be in any other profession; and
  • protect the rights of educators to collectively bargain for salary, benefits, and working conditions.[4]

—Teach Great, [7]

Campaign contributions

As of June 17, 2014, no committees were registered with the Missouri Ethics Commission in support of the measure.[8]

Opposition

Opponents

  • Committee in Support of Public Educators
  • Cape Girardeau Community Teachers Association[6]
  • Missouri State Teachers Association[6]

Arguments

Opponents of the measure provide the following arguments against its passage:[6]

  • The measure will require more standardized testing and, in turn, cost tax payers more money.
  • Under the amendment, the state would tell school districts the best way to evaluate teachers, thus "eroding local control."
  • Some students cannot "get into the A-B range no matter what teachers do." Many students from lower income backgrounds may have other issues besides school performance on which they are focused.
  • Teachers need protections from extreme levels of scrutiny.

Campaign contributions

As of June 17, 2014, the Committee in Support of Public Educators is the only committee registered with the Missouri Ethics Commission for this ballot measure. The following totals are accurate as of the committee's May 9, 2014, report filing, at which point it only had two contributors and no expenditures.[9][10]

PAC info:

PAC Amount raised Amount spent
Committee in Support of Public Educators
$36,000
$0
Total $36,000 $0

Top contributors:

Donor Amount
Missouri National Education Association $20,000
Missouri Legislative Impact Committee $16,000

Path to the ballot

See also: Amending the Missouri Constitution & Laws governing the initiative process in Missouri

The supporting group had until May 4, 2014 to turn in at least 157,788 valid signatures. Missouri law states that signatures must be obtained from registered voters equal to 8 percent of the total votes cast in the 2012 governor's election from 6 of the state's 8 congressional districts. Supporters submitted more than 275,900 signatures by the prescribed deadline. Now, the secretary of state's office has until the August 5, 2014 primary election to decide whether the measure should be certified.[11][12]

See also

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