The Mobile County Board of School Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution today urging Alabama lawmakers to oppose the PREP Act.
The Preparing and Rewarding Educational Personnel (PREP) Act would require that teachers, principals and assistant principals be evaluated in a new way. At least 25 percent of the evaluations would be based on standardized test scores, namely the ACT and the ACT Aspire.
“I think this would definitely have a negative effect on teachers and teaching in Alabama,” said board President Don Stringfellow.
Added Superintendent Martha Peek: “Your teachers and principals will appreciate your support because they’ve been very concerned about this.”
Mobile County Public Schools is the largest school system in the state, with 59,000 students and 7,500 employees.
The PREP Act is a rewrite of the previously proposed RAISE Act, which was greatly criticized.
Stringfellow said that though the PREP Act reads differently, “in reality it’s not different.”
Critics of the PREP Act – which is heading to the Senate – have said teachers should not be evaluated based on how students perform on a standardized test. Outside factors play a role in student performance, including poverty and family life.
Also, some have said the PREP Act would make it difficult for schools that are considered hard-to-staff or that are under-performing to hire and keep teachers.
The Act, proposed by Sen. President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, would provide a signing bonus to teachers at poor or failing schools. But the state would only providing funding for that bonus in 2017, making the PREP Act an unfunded mandate.
Here is the wording of the resolution:
WHEREAS, teacher evaluation has been the responsibility of the Alabama State Department of Education and is a complex process that requires the expertise and skill of professional educators to develop valid and reliable evaluation systems; and
WHEREAS, Alabama Senate Bill 316 would create the Preparing and Rewarding Educational Professionals (PREP) Act of 2016 that would provide procedures for evaluating teacher performance identifying five levels of teacher effectiveness and require the use of a student growth model to isolate the effect and impact of a teacher on students, with the growth model comprising a minimum of 25 percent of the teacher evaluation score; and
WHEREAS, Senate Bill 316 would for the purpose of calculating the student growth model require the use of student performance on the ACT Aspire examination, the American College Test (ACT) or another single examination that measures student achievement; and
WHEREAS, Senate Bill 316 would establish a Legislative School Performance Recognition Program to be funded from the Education Trust Fund for one fiscal year ending September 30, 2017; and
WHEREAS, Senate Bill 316 would establish a Teacher Recruitment Fund and Teacher Mentor Program to be funded from the Education Trust Fund for one fiscal year ending September 30, 2017;
WHEREAS, Senate Bill 316 would require a new or increased expenditure of local funds;
WHEREAS, Senate Bill 316 would usurp the authority and duties of the democratically elected State Board of Education and prevent the consistent application of a fair and valid teacher evaluation system; and
WHEREAS, Senate Bill 316 would undermine the ability of local school systems to recruit and retain effective teachers; to implement a fair and valid teacher evaluation system; and to expend local funds for the purpose of meeting system financial obligations and educational goals.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of School Commissioners of Mobile County firmly expresses opposition to Alabama Senate Bill 316 and urges all members of the Alabama Senate, and in particular those within the Mobile County Delegation, to oppose this bill.
READ, APPROVED, AND ADDOPTED THIS DAY 16™ DAY OF MARCH, 2016.