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February 25, 2014 at 4:06 PM

After meeting with feds, Inslee backs teacher-evaluation change

OLYMPIA — A meeting with America’s top education official has apparently convinced Gov. Jay Inslee that Washington state must act to require public-school teacher evaluations take into account student scores on statewide tests.

Inslee spokeswoman Jaime Smith said the governor met Tuesday afternoon with lawmakers from both parties to hammer out a compromise that would make the change in order to allow the state to keep its waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law — and keep control over some $40 million that comes with the waiver.

The compromise will likely delay the move until the 2017-2018 school year and include a provision that voids the change if the state does not actually get to keep the waiver, Smith said.

Inslee, a Democrat, and Randy Dorn, the state superintendent of public instruction, were drafting a bill to be introduced this week, Smith said.

It is expected to win over enough Democrats to join with Republicans for the bill to pass.

The compromise likely ends a drama that started in earnest last week, when seven members of the Republican-led state Senate majority caucus joined with minority Democrats to defeat the change.

The Democrats, who had supported the bill earlier in the session, said they changed their mind after hearing testimony that local tests would provide better information for the evaluations.

On Tuesday afternoon, several Democratic state senators indicated the compromise would likely win support.

Rosemary McAuliffe, of Bothell, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Education Committee, said she and others would wait to take a position until they saw the bill. But she said the delay, in particular, would “make some of us feel more comfortable.”

State Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, said he could not take a position on the bill before reading it. But he said the basics of Inslee’s compromise, as described by a reporter, seemed a “logical solution.”

Why the change?

On Sunday, Inslee met with U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan about the issue during a visit to Washington, D.C., for a meeting of the National Governors Association.

While some Democrats hoped Inslee could persuade Duncan to issue the waiver without the teacher-evaluation change, Smith said the secretary “made it pretty clear” that the change was important.

0 Comments | More in State Legislature | Topics: Andy Billig, Arne Duncan, Jay Inslee

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