In House Hearing, Texas AFT Opposes SB 4 on Teacher Evaluation

SB 4, the bill by Republican Sen. Florence Shapiro to revamp teacher evaluation, received little support when presented this morning in the House Public Education Committee by Rep. Rob Eissler, Republican of The Woodlands. Texas AFT, three other state teacher organizations, and other groups such as the Texas Association of School Personnel Administrators all testified against the bill.

Texas AFT challenged the bill’s mandate that 30 to 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation would have to be based on measures of teacher effectiveness such as the annual improvement of achievement by a teacher’s students. As several committee members noted—and as the only witness who testified in favor of the bill agreed—this could be expected to boil down to an evaluation system heavily based on the results of standardized state achievement tests. Thus the bill would portend an even more intense over-emphasis on standardized testing than we have already.

Texas AFT’s testimony also noted internal contradictions in the bill. For instance, it would authorize the commissioner to conduct pilot projects to guide rule-making on the redesign of the state evaluation system, yet at the same time it would prematurely mandate the above-mentioned metric for teacher evaluation regardless of what such pilot projects might teach us about the optimal features of a new system.