Proposed misassignment systems needs teeth

Proposed misassignment systems needs teeth

(Calif.) A coalition of advocates for low-income families has warned lawmakers that plans working through Sacramento to reduce the number of teachers improperly assigned classroom duties may actually have the opposite effect.

Both the Newsom administration and Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles, have introduced legislation that would fully utilize a new data collection system so that schools statewide—including charters—are monitored annually for teacher misassignments.

The letter points out that neither proposal includes language that would formally require schools to correct any assignment problems found by the new review process.

The coalition–which includes Public Advocates, a San Francisco-based non-profit law firm, the American Civil Liberties Union of California and Californians Together—sent a letter raising the issue Monday to the chairs of the Legislative Conference Committee.

“Current law states that county superintendents of schools shall notify school administrators of assignments with “no legal authorization” and “advise him or her to correct the assignment within 30 days,’” the coalition said. “The current proposal, however, reduces the county superintendent role to data verification and presents the LEA and the school administrator with no obligation to act, even to review potential misassignments—let alone correct them.”

Ensuring that all students have a properly credentialed instructor was one key settlement agreement made in the landmark Williams lawsuit from 2006. Making sure that local educational agencies comply with the mandate, however, has proved problematic—especially during the teacher shortage that districts have faced in recent years.

Under the Williams settlement, only those schools ranked at the bottom on statewide testing are monitored for teacher assignments every year. Otherwise, schools are looked at on a rotation of every four years.

The governor’s plan, as well as AB 1219, would both require annual evaluation of misassignments, including those teachers working for charter schools.

A 2018 report to the Commission on Teacher Credentialing found an overall increase of 16 percent among schools ranked in the lowest deciles in student test scores between 2015 and 2017, the most recent data available.

Last year, lawmakers included $400,000 in the state budget so that the commission could begin building a new monitoring system. That system is expected to be ready for piloting this fall.

The new data collection tool would merge existing data held at the CTC and the CDE on teacher preparation course work and credential authorization. Those reports for each teacher would go to school districts and county offices.

Because the new system would automate what has been a manual chore, school administrators and county regulators would have more time to focus on the problems schools are having getting the right people in the right classrooms.

The coalition, however, warned lawmakers not to repeal the existing system and requirements with a new system that lacks teeth.

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