Flawed PREP Act Dangerous
Senator Del Marsh’s much anticipated bill to link student test scores to teacher performance evaluations and remove tenure for support professionals was introduced in the Alabama Senate on March 1 and narrowly passed out of committee, 5-4, on March 8. The Preparing and Rewarding Educational Professionals (PREP) Act is set to be considered on the Senate floor as early as March 15.
The PREP Act requires a new evaluation model for teachers that must base at least 25% of a teacher’s annual evaluation on student test scores on the ACT or the ACT Aspire. The act also requires a portion of a teacher’s evaluation score in grades 3-12 be derived from student surveys.
The term “teacher” is broadly defined in the bill to include librarians, counselors, administrators, and all other certificated professionals employed by Alabama’s K-12 school districts, the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind (AIDB) and the Department of Youth Services (DYS). This definition will require educators who are not providing direct instruction to students to also be evaluated by student test scores.
Teachers who teach vocational and technical programs, foreign languages, computer science, physical education, and other non-tested subjects will be evaluated on the student test scores of a yet-to-be determined test selected by the State Department of Education (SDE).
Not only does the PREP act create a new evaluation model, it also requires all teachers hired after January 1, 2017, to work five years before attaining tenure. If this bill passes, there will be no tenure for any support staff hired after January 1, 2017.
Educator reaction to the bill has been unprecedented in terms of opposition and unity. The March 8 public hearing in the Senate featured testimony criticizing the PREP Act from superintendents, the Alabama Teacher of the Year, the president of AEA, a Hoover City school board member, and SDE officials. Ann Monroe, a classroom teacher at Bryant Jr. High in Jackson County, passionately told legislators about a student in her classroom missing more than 40 days of school last semester. She asked how she, or any teacher, could be held accountable for that child’s standardized test scores.
All AEA members are encouraged to contact their legislators as soon as possible to discuss the flaws in the proposed legislation and to ask them to vote NO on the PREP Act (Senate Bill 316). Contact information for all members of the Alabama Legislature can be found here.
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