Teachers’ union leader surprised by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey veto of bill
PHOENIX — The union representing Arizona teachers on Tuesday slammed Gov. Doug Ducey for vetoing what members called a sensible change to the evaluation process for classroom instructors and principals.
The bill Ducey vetoed would have lowered the percentage of a teacher’s performance evaluation based on standardized test scores and excluded students who weren’t in a teacher’s class the entire year.
It also would have barred use of test scores if the instructor didn’t teach courses covered by the tests.
Ducey said in a veto letter that the legislation would have diminished the “impact and focus of improving student academic outcomes as a measurement of quality teaching and learning.”
Joe Thomas, president of the Arizona Education Association, said his group was “kind of stunned” that Ducey would veto something that had such broad support.
Only three of 90 lawmakers voted against the proposal.
Thomas, a former high school social studies teacher, said he taught seniors, but a big part of his evaluation was based on standardized reading, writing and math tests taken by 10th graders.
“I never taught those kids — it makes no sense,’ he said.
“This was the heart of what we were trying to address.”
Republican Sen. Steve Smith said his bill focused more on how teachers actually performed in the classroom.
“What is the measure of success they have demonstrated with their child from Day One to day end?” Smith said.
“Not necessarily how did that child do on a particular standardized test, but what was the overall teacher impact on where they move their child on the education continuum.”
Smith said he had been working to revise teacher evaluations since 2011 and thought this year’s version made significant improvements.
Ducey spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said the governor believed the current evaluation law was working fine and provided flexibility to principals.
“The fact is the principal, the school leader, is the one doing the evaluation and they know best what’s happening in their schools and how to evaluate their teachers,’ he said.
Republican Rep. Doug Coleman teaches technical education classes to high school juniors and seniors, yet up to half of his evaluation was based on the standardized AZMerit. His students took that test as sophomores on subjects he didn’t teach.
“I’m not sure if that bill was the answer,” Coleman said. “But I think there does need to be some adjustments to deal equitably with teachers being evaluated on subjects that they have control of.”
Thomas said the veto was a final blow to public school teachers after a year in which Ducey provided a 1 percent teacher raise, approved a massive increase in the state’s private school voucher program and embraced several other initiatives the teacher group opposed.
“If education policy were a test this year the governor missed every question. It really was disappointing,” Thomas said.
“From the pay increase, to passing vouchers, to all these pet projects. He never addressed the teacher crisis, and this bill would have done that.”
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