New data tool for ending teacher misassignments

New data tool for ending teacher misassignments

(Calif.) A group of volunteer school districts is expected to begin this summer piloting a new data collection system aimed at reducing the number of teachers assigned classroom duties outside their credentialed authority.

Fifteen years after the state of California settled the landmark Williams lawsuit, where the courts upheld the constitutional right of all public school students to have access to a properly trained teacher—among other things—teaching misassignments remain a major problem in many low-performing schools.

A report in November 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.

This year, Gov. Gavin Newsom and Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles, have both introduced legislation that would use the new monitoring system by requiring county offices of education to conduct an annual review of misassignments at all schools, including charters.

The Williams settlement, which former-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed in 2004, mandated the state to ensure that all schools were providing basic necessities for education—meaning proper instructional materials; clean and safe classrooms and facilities; and qualified teachers.

While the settlement required the state to ensure that teachers have the right credentials for the courses they were teaching, current law only requires that county offices conduct assignment review on a four-year cycle. Just those schools that fell into the lowest performing category at the time of the settlement are reviewed every year for misassignments.

AB 1219 by Jones-Sawyer and a budget trailer bill proposed by the administration would both require annual evaluation of misassignments, including those teachers working for charter schools.

Existing law already gives the CTC and the California Department of Education authority to sanction districts that persistently violate assignment norms.

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.

Although the overall increase in number of misassignments identified in the November report to the CTC was significant, staff noted that those teachers—a total of 578 in 2016-17—represents only a small fraction of the 62,000 teachers monitored overall in the 2,183 schools flagged for review.

They also pointed out that misassignments in special education has been on a downward trend since 2012.

The second highest area of misassignments overall were identified for teachers of English learners, which increased by 74 percent between 2015-16 and 2016-17. Once again, however, staff noted that is less than 1 percent of the teachers who were reviewed who were misassigned in this area.

The report also found misassignments occurred in all four core subject areas during the study period: mathematics (18 percent); science (5 percent); English language arts (38 percent); and Social Science (28 percent).

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