Oklahoma still in race for $175 million education funds

Deadline for $175 million in education grants is nearing as Oklahoma educators seek support from lawmakers, school officials and teacher unions for "bold” reforms.

BY MEGAN ROLLAND Published: May 23, 2010
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/> In the proposed legislation, such data would likely be collected with a new or improved state standardized test.

Student test scores would be tracked statewide to rapidly produce results allowing principals to evaluate a teacher’s performance. Such factors could be used to determine compensation and employment.

Odom said she has concerns about the proposed system and time a new teacher is under evaluation.

"Sometimes the things that a teacher faces on a daily basis are not taken into consideration,” she said, "like the (students) who are hungry or sick or whose parents or custodian have a fight the night before.”

Taylor said the evaluation system could be adjusted for outside factors impacting student performance.

"If you have a classroom full of students who are two years below math, if you bring them up a year, that’s significant progress,” Taylor said. "If you are teaching a group of (high achieving Advanced Placement) AP students, you may not be able to make those gains.”

Ginger Tinney, executive director of the nonunion Professional Oklahoma Educators, said the current teacher evaluation system is subjective. But she is not completely comfortable with the proposed changes.

"It’s data that teachers can use to protect their jobs, too. They can say, ‘look my students are achieving,’ because schools are very political, unfortunately,” Tinney said. "We’re one of the few jobs ... where our job is going to be totally dependent on how other people do.”