Director Buck’s Tenure Starts With a Bang

I just posted a few days ago that I expected Director Buck’s tenure to be more of the same, largely continuing in the same vein as Director Glass.  So, I’m a little surprised that he chose to get started with a controversial appointment, appointing StudentsFirst Iowa State Director Patty Link to the Council on Educator Development.

The Council on Educator Development was created in Division VI of HF 215, the major education reform bill from the 2013 legislative session.  From this blog’s coverage:

Division VI: Council on Educator Development.  Establishes a council on educator development to conduct a study and make recommendations regarding a statewide teacher evaluation system and performance review requirements and a statewide administrator evaluation system.  In developing recommendations for any evaluation system the council shall consider, in addition to other items, the fair and balanced use of student outcome measures comprised of multiple, reliable indicators of student growth and learning that are appropriate to the curriculum and the students being taught.  The measures may include gauges of higher order skills such as student research papers, science investigations, technology products, and art projects; teacher-defined objectives for individual student growth; student learning objectives; district, school, or teacher-created assessments; and high-quality standardized tests.  The council shall provide for wide distribution of a preliminary draft of recommendations to teachers, administrators, and school boards by October 1, 2015 and provide a mechanism and opportunity for the submission of feedback that shall be reviewed by the council prior to making final recommendations, which are due by November 15, 2016.

Patty Link is described as serving as the parent representative on the Council.  However, Patty Link is also registered as a lobbyist for StudentsFirst since June 13, 2013.  (What’s with the California address and phone number–doesn’t she live in the Des Moines area?)  So, it is completely unsurprising that objections are being raised about her appointment.

Why does it matter?  So far, efforts to tie teacher evaluations to student test scores have been successfully resisted in Iowa.  There have been good questions raised about the validity and appropriateness of using student test scores for that purpose.  But here’s the StudentsFirst view on the matter:

StudentsFirst has consistently called on states to require meaningful teacher and principal evaluations based on multiple measures that are focused on student outcomes.

HT: Scott McLeod.  He has more on this over at Dangerously Irrelevant.