The latest and greatest version of the infamous RAISE/PREP Act surfaced last week.  Once again, changes had been made.  And some, such as the Alabama Association of School Boards, who had previously opposed the legislation switched sides.  But do not put Jennifer Brown, current Teacher of the Year, in that column   She remains very opposed to this bill, perhaps even more so than ever.

Here is a statement she put out late last week.

“After proctoring the 10th grade ACT Aspire at Vestavia Hills high were I teach, I cannot support an evaluation system, whether it comes from the Legislature or the Alabama State Department of Education, which ties teacher evaluations to ACT Aspire scores for the following reasons:

1) The students have had no preparation for this, and there are no computerized practice problems that I am aware of (please correct me if I’m wrong). My math colleague shared that one of her students said to her during class, “For the questions that asked us to WRITE an answer, I didn’t know how to do it, so I just skipped all of them.”

2) Students are told in the directions that this test means nothing to them. Do we really expect our students to take the test seriously after telling them it’s no big deal?

3) Several of the students in my room finished within the first 10 minutes – it was a 60 minute test. Yes, we are supposed to report it if we THINK they selected random answers. How can we PROVE it?

I have many more examples of our students across the state who didn’t see the need to take this test seriously. My Vestavia Hills City Schools Design Team has been working on a model that does not include ACT Aspire scores because we were told the following: 

-Teachers will demonstrate student engagement by using ONE or more of the following measures: surveys, benchmark assessments, ASPIRE, district and/or school goals
-Teachers will demonstrate student growth through data sources that indicate a master of a subject or grade-level standard.

According to the PREP Act (Senate Bill 316), schools must use ACT Aspire data for a portion of evaluations. As a teacher, I cannot support an evaluation system that holds teachers accountable for test scores without accountability for students.

The only fair way to use testing data is to go to a pre-test/post-test system, but I want to remind everyone that this means more high-stakes tests because we will have to test EVERY subject at the beginning and the end of the year.

Teachers are not opposed to accountability, but it has to be fair. I do not think that tying our evaluations to a test that students may or may not take seriously is a fair way to evaluate us.

Senator Marsh’s Office has stated that that there will be no further negotiations on this bill.

I am asking everyone to call and email ALL SENATORS to vote NO next Tuesday, which is currently when the PREP Act is slated to be on the Senate floor.

I am also asking you to email the Alabama State Board of Education. They need to know that the ACT Aspire test may be a great test, but if there is no accountability for students taking the test, we should not be legislatively mandated to be held accountable for their results either.”