Iowa, Louisiana move on education reform

Louisiana is examining an education reform package being advanced by Governor Bobby Jindhal that would tie teacher job security to how they fared on external performance metrics. The Iowa House has passed a slate of education reforms that would require yearly evaluations for school teachers, a test for graduating high school seniors and an extra hour of class time each day for kids in state-funded preschool programs.

Supported by No Child Left Behind Waivers and movements across the country to look at performance based pay for teachers, several states have been looking at ways to change how teachers are evaluated. The changes are supported by federal programs including Race to the Top which requires performance based provisions to be part of educational systems in order to apply for merit-based grant funding.

The Louisiana package being put forward by Governor Jindhal would reduce considerations for seniority and tenure focusing instead on student performance. The package would also expand an existing state plan that provides vouchers for charter school tuition.

Teachers have flooded the state capital, protesting the reforms, calling them unfair to teachers.

In Iowa, Governor Branstad is encouraging legislators to “be bold,” on passing reforms. Education has been a key focus of the Branstad administration and the Governor has been very vocal in his wishes for change.

Currently teacher evaluations happen every three years, under the new bill formal evaluations would continue on that timeline with yearly peer review evaluations happening every year. High school seniors would also be required to pass a skills test before graduating high school.