The high-profile spat between Seattle Public Schools and the Seattle teachers union, the Seattle Education Association, over contract negotiations came to an end Tuesday when both sides reached a tentative agreement to allow student test scores to be used a measure for teacher evaluations.
The new evaluation system—which the union backed—would rate teachers on a four-tiered scale: unsatisfactory, basic, proficient, and innovative. The district’s new system would promise highly-rated teachers more pay (teachers will receive a one percent raise in years two and three of the new agreement). It seeks to increase accountability and help for struggling teachers. At the very least, the plan will give teachers—who deserve more money to begin with—an incentive to perform better than just satisfactory.
An earlier contract proposal by Seattle Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson had made student academic progress a much bigger chunk of a teacher's evaluation—something the union strongly opposed, almost resulting in the negotiations falling apart.
The Seattle public schools currently follow a binary model of satisfactory or unsatisfactory evaluation that has been criticized by a number of education coalitions as being ineffective.
Seattle Public Schools hopes to fund some parts of the evaluation system with the help of a $48.2 million levy that will go before voters in the November 2 elections. The district will also be applying to federal grants to raise money to pay for the system.
Meanwhile, the teachers union has recommended a vote of no confidence for Goodloe-Johnson, citing doubts about her ability to lead. The union is expected to vote on both the contract and the no confidence motion today.