Live Blogging the LD 1799 Stakeholder group’s last (?) meeting before the May 14 deadline…


3:20pm. It doesn’t seem as though this needed to be as hard as is turned out to be, but the A.G is happy and Maine’s RTT application WILL go forward.

Who gets the credit for a job well done?  The Department came in with a much more structured approach, which worked well, but it was the MEA’s proposal that won the day. Excellent work on their part, especially given the resistance they doubtless had to overcome within their own membership.

There is work to come, of course, and there will doubtless be disagreements about which kind of student achievement can be used in these models, but given where the panel was last meeting – which was going backwards – they did take a good first step today.

3:15pm. Their work here is done – Danielson is the model.  The panel evidently intends to spend some time further developing the model, and is working, already, to set future meeting dates.

3:10pm – Done and Done. MEA’s Gray moves that the panel adopt the Danielson model with a student achievement component. It is seconded. The vote is unanimous.

3:08pm – A.G. Mills is here, and her verdict is that the MOU “has no legal significance” to her – she wants a vote on a model.

3:01 pm – As we await the A.G.’s verdict, the question is this – assuming if a school district wants to use the Danielson framework to evaluate teachers AND wants to integrate student performance data into that framework, will it be allowed to do that starting tomorrow given what the stakeholder group has agreed to?  OR, does the stakeholder group reserve the right to further develop specific regulations for the use of this model, taking the meetings in the months to come to do it?

Arguments could be made wither way. LD1799 specifically authorizes the stakeholder group as the body that can approve evaluation models of this kind, which would seem to suggest no model can be used that hasn’t been specifically authorized by the panel, regardless of the MOU. If so, though, doesn’t the infamous “barrier” to the use of student achievement for teacher evaluations still exist, as no specific model has actaully, technically, been approved?

2:35pm – And suddenly, back on track. The group is signing off on a slightly modified version of the MEA MOU, saying that it “agrees to include a student achievement component” to the Danielson framework.

Someone has gone to fetch the A.G…

2:31pm – Meeting starting to derail…less than 90 minutes left.

2:26pm – I’m reminded of the line you hear at car dealerships – “What can I do to get you into this car TODAY.” Acting Commissioner Faherty essentially just said exactly that – “What do I need to do to get you people to approve the Danielson model, with a student performance component, TODAY?”

There are factions developing – the Let’s approve the amended Danielson model” vs. the “we need to approve a full-scale model, not let the locals do it, as LD 1799 dictates” faction.

2:15pm – The union is pushing back on the Department, saying that the panel can’t simply attach the Department’s module to the Danielson framework and hope that the local districts can figure out how to make it work. MEA’s Gray is arguing that LD 1799 was drafted specifically to impanel a state-level group – the stakeholder group – to do that work for them. It should not be up to the districts to make it work, he says, the stakeholder group should simply agree to agree, then take the summer to put a specific model together.

2:12pm – The Department, for its part, appears to believe that Mills wants a specific model. They are pushing to have the panel adopt the Danielson framework, as amended by the “module” the Department distributed at the start of the meeting.

1:58pm – The panel is taking a break, and lots of side discussions going on. The question that seems to have emerged in these discussions is whether the AG will accept the MOU that the union has put forward, in lieu of an actual model. The union is pushing for the group to agree that they will support an amended Danielson model, without actually developing the model right away. The idea seems to be to take the agreement to A.G. Mills for her approval, but continue to meet over the course of the next few months to hammer out the details.They would not approve a model today, but just agree to approve one.

So does Mills want an agreement to approve a model or an actual model? We’ll see.

An additional observation…The MEA, it is important to point out, has taken a big step here, but is still committed to having the actual models approved by this panel. They DO NOT want to agree on some broad parameters for a model, then let the locals develop the specific evaluation systems on their own. They claim that this is capacity issue, which is true to an extent, but it is more about the MEA using its position on this panel to determine which student performance-based evaluation systems are to be used in Maine schools. Local control is not something they favor, at least when it comes to the issue of teacher evaluation systems which use student achievement.

1:45pm – They may not be here all afternoon after all. The MEA has distributed a proposed Memorandum of Understanding that would have the stakeholder groups “agree and commit to including a student achievement component to the ‘Framework for Teaching’ (FFT) as created by Charlotte Danielson as a system for evaluating and improving the instructional performance of teachers in Maine.”  Could this be the agreement we have been looking for?

1:37pm – The MEA’s Mark Gray says the union took a look at TAP and the Danielson framework, anticipating that the Department might propose some kind of amendment, just like the one they ended up proposing, that would “attach” student performance to these models. The agree, they say, to approve the use of the Danielson model with a student achievement element added. They have cost concerns, especially if the state fails to win an RTT grant, but they are okay with using an existing, widely-used model (Danielson), with a carefully constructed student performance element added to it.

Kudos to them. This is a big, big step for the union.

I am impressed.

1:30pm – The MEA is putting forward its own proposal…

1:28 pm – The Department has wasted no time in putting forward a student performance “module” developed, they say, in cooperation with the Attorney General’s office.  This module would attach to an existing model like the TAP or Danielson models. It mandates that any student data used MUST use student growth data – the change in student performance over time – and “at least one other measure that is rigorous and comparable across classrooms.” The module  allows, but does not mandate, additional uses of student performance data, (such as for professional development or for teacher compensation), allows “discretionary use” of other student performance data,  and forbids the use of only “one assessment” for the purposes of evaluations.

The Department is proposing, therefore, that the panel approve a model like TAP or Danielson, as amended by the addition of the Department’s module. That way, these models, which do not use student data, would make Maine eligible for RTT.

1:10 pm -What is scheduled to be the final meeting of the LD 1799 stakeholder group is under way, and the task before the group is  huge. If Maine is to complete for a federal Race to the Top grant, this group must approve an evaluation system for teachers and principals that makes use of student performance data. As the Bangor Daily News points out in an editorial today, the options before the group are few, but the consequences of their actions potentially enormous. Maine’s Race to the Top application hangs in the balance…

Acting Commissioner Faherty is starting off by reviewing the panel’s goals for the day…