This week's big news is that the U.S. House is poised to move on an Elementary and Secondary Education Act revision written by Rep. John Kline, the House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman.
My colleague Alyson Klein already has written a great overview of the major issues. But it's worth further digging into a few of the ones that stand to affect teacher-quality policy across the states, assuming the bill is cleared for floor debate. (That's still a big 'if.') Let's take a look at them.
Teacher evaluation: The bill would require districts to develop evaluation systems based on multiple measures, including student achievement data as a "significant factor." Districts would have to report the percentage of teachers that fell into each performance category under the system. The teacher-evaluation mandate, as Alyson noted earlier, is a key difference between this bill and the one crafted by Kline's Senate counterpart, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.
State teacher-quality grants: The bill would change how the federal government's $2.5 million annual investment in teacher quality is distributed by putting more of an emphasis on a state's population than the proportion of poor students it serves. Rep. Kline had introduced this idea a while back.
Also, the bill would reserve 25 percent of the Title II program for a competitive-grant program to local districts for reforms such as performance pay. (There's already one set-aside in Title II.)
Finally, the bill would cap each district's spending of Title II on class-size reduction to just 10 percent. Given that districts currently spend about 31 percent of their Title II dollars on class-size reductions (one-fifth of districts spend their allocation exclusively on this activity), this would harken quite a shift in spending.
Teacher preparation: Language lifted straight out of the controversial GREAT Act would let states use some Title II money to set up teacher preparation academies.
In addition, the House Rules Committee determines which amendments can be offered. Several of them are worth paying attention to:
UPDATED, July 18, with details on which ones will be offered.
- Amendments 59 and 67 would eliminate the language requiring teacher evaluation; A revised version of 67 was offered and passed.
- Amendment 4 would reaffirm that nothing in the bill can override states' collective bargaining laws; Not included.
- Amendment 28 would revise the definition of "professional development" and require more reporting on teacher credentials. Withdrawn.
- Amendment 29 would not allow for the Title II formula revision unless the Education Secretary could show it wouldn't hurt low-income schools. Was offered and passed.