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For Immediate Release

Date: 05/14/13

Education Committee Votes to Cap Test Scores as Percentage of Teacher Evaluations

Republicans move to increase number from 10 to 20 percent, some vote against cap

AUGUSTA - The Legislature's Education Committee on Monday voted "ought to pass as amended" on a bill to cap the portion of teacher evaluations to be determined by year-over-year changes to students' standardized testing scores. Rep. Bruce MacDonald (D-Boothbay), co-chair of the committee, sponsored the bill, LD 751, which originally capped the figure at 30 percent. He later amended the bill to reduce that figure to just 10 percent.

MacDonald and the Maine Education Association have since each voiced an opinion that changes in test scores should not be included at all in teacher evaluations.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently sponsored a comprehensive study, at a cost of $50 million and with the participation of 3,000 teachers, which concluded that changes to test scores should account for 33 to 50 percent of a teacher's evaluation. The study found that test scores were a more reliable source of information than classroom observations.

During Monday's work session, Rep. Matthew Pouliot (R-Augusta) made a motion to amend the bill to increase the figure from 10 percent to 20 percent. In an effort to reach a strong consensus, MacDonald endorsed Pouliot's motion, which became the majority report of the committee.

Rep. Peter Johnson (R-Greenville) and Rep. Michael McClellan (R-Raymond) voted against the bill in a minority "ought not to pass" report. They opposed a statewide cap as an infringement of local control.

"We felt it important to leave it up to the local school districts to decide what portion, if any, of teacher evaluations should be determined by changes to test scores," said Rep. Johnson.

Rep. Michael McClellan (R-Raymond) agreed. "A lot of these numbers are very arbitrary, and it's important that local schools have the flexibility to decide which figure is best for them," he said. "I don't think we should cap it at the state level."

Rep. Pouliot agreed that local control is important, but that if the state is to cap the factoring of test scores, that figure should be higher than 10 percent. "I felt 20 percent was a reasonable compromise in light of the fact that many states peg the figure at 50 percent," said Pouliot. "It's important that we have a well-rounded and comprehensive system for evaluating teachers and helping them to make their classrooms the best that they can be."

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David Sorensen
Maine House Republicans
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