FLORENCE COUNTY, S.C. (WPDE) - State Superintendent of Education Dr. Mick Zais is traveling the state to talk about changes that may come to our schools. Dr. Zais stopped by Lucy T. Davis Elementary in Florence County Thursday evening to discuss the No Child Left Behind waiver the state received in July and the proposed changes that could take effect.
Before the meeting began, several teachers held up signs showing their dislike of the Zais plan. One main point of contention is how the teachers are evaluated.
Part of their score includes student growth, which is measured by test scores. Teachers will be evaluated on school-wide test numbers, not just how their students perform .
"The evaluation that he's proposing is based on test scores which they take in a regular classroom not my IEP's that I work on daily with the students. So how can I be evaluated on something I'm not teaching?" asked Lisa Hawkins, President of the local chapter of the SCEA.
"The Zais plan would put principals, teachers, and student under enormous pressure to generate numbers they can't control. Now that may be the right approach for a used car lot, but it's not right for our schools," said Patrick Hayes, President of EdFirstSC and an educator in Charleston County. "It's going to be harder than ever to find qualified teachers for our struggling schools if they know they're going to get a negative evaluation before they even walk in the door."
"Test scores are pretty reliable and valid measure of how much students have learned. Otherwise, why would teachers give tests?" explained Dr. Zais.
He goes on to say the recommendations are a part of a three year program. The proposed changes will be tested in about two dozen schools across the state first.
Another reason teachers are upset is that they feel like they aren't being heard. Thursday's presentation is one of five held around the state. They only last an hour and a half, and the comment portion is very limited. All of the written questions submitted weren't answered, instead, they'll be answered online. Some of the teachers call that censorship.
"This is a three year process, and until we've got the first years data and the input from the teachers and the community, it would be premature for us to change the plan midway through our first beta test," added Zais.
The state of South Carolina is one of 34 states that received the NCLB waiver.
You can read the purposed waiver in its entirety here.