Amendment ties paycheck to test scores

Irene Ryan
Entertainment Editor

In the upcoming Nov. 4, election, voters will decide whether or not to adopt Amendment 3, a Missouri Teacher Performance Evaluation, into the Missouri Constitution.
Amendment 3, if passed, would add six subsections to Section 3 of Article IX of the Missouri Constitution. The amendment requires that teachers be paid, dismissed, promoted and demoted using “quantifiable student performance data as part of the evaluation system.”

The amendment also prohibits teachers from organizing or bargaining in regard to the design of the evaluation system, which has to be state approved.

The amendment was sponsored by Marc Ellinger, an attorney for the Teach Great campaign, run by Children’s Education Council of Missouri. Teach Great, along with its supporters including attorneys Blitz, Bardgett and Deutsch LLC and Rex Sinquefield, a retired financial executive active in Missouri politics and philanthropy, said the amendment will “ensure that teachers be evaluated based on an objective measure: their students’ academic growth.” It will also end the “last-in-first-out” rule, ensuring that effective teachers stay while the ineffective are let go, Teach Great said.

However, the amendment has also been met with disapproval. Various teacher associations, unions and districts, including the Webster Groves School District Board of Education, have voiced opposition. On Sept. 22, the board members signed a resolution on Amendment 3, concluding to oppose the amendment.

The Board argues the amendment would shift control from parents, teachers, administrators and school board.
“I feel it is destructive to public education. The biggest problem is that the Amendment, which can only be changed by passing another amendment, takes away local control of school districts,” Webster’s NEA president Don Eckert said. Amendment 3 would also require more standardized testing, which would cost taxpayers more money.

There is also the argument about the accuracy of a student performance-based evaluation system.
Jeanne Kirkton, a Missouri legislator who opposes Amendment 3, said, “Evaluating teachers based on student test scores does not necessarily equate with accountability. There are many life variables that can impact a student’s performance that are well beyond the control of teachers.”

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