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ESSA's 'Ineffective Teacher' Requirement Gives Calif. Board Member 'Heartburn'

California's state board of education voted Wednesday to define an "ineffective teacher" in its Every Student Succeeds Act plan as one who is improperly assigned or doesn't have full credentials, upsetting several school accountability organizations across the state, according to the Los Angeles Times

"This is too similar to the definition for out-of-field," Ryan Smith, the executive director of the Education Trust West, said in a letter addressed to the state board. "Further, it refuses to consider teacher effectiveness as something apart from certification and instead as something related to performance and impact on students. The mark of an effective teacher should be their ability to help students learn. We encourage the state to turn the conversation back to students."  

Board chair Mike Kirst told Education Week last month that he feels defining a quality teacher should be left to districts and that he was considering having the legislature instead define ineffective teacher.

During Wednesday's meeting, California State Board of Education member Ting Sun said, "The whole ineffective teacher definition gives me heartburn."

ESSA requires states to define what an ineffective teacher is and then describe in its plan how the department plans to assure that poor and minority kids aren't placed in front of a disproportionate number of them. As Education Week described last month, several state departments are at odds with teacher groups in their states over how to address this requirement.  

In its feedback to states, the federal department of education has told Connecticut, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Oregon that the way they address this portion of the law is inadequate.

California's state board of education is expected to vote on the ESSA accountability plan in September.  

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