Johnston v. Alberty on school legislation

This should be fun. Sioux Falls School Board President Kent Alberty is challenging Mark Johnston for state senate in District 12.

Johnston, who took Sandy Jerstad’s seat in 2010 and chaired the Senate Education committee this year, generally has been a friend of the public schools. He shows up to school district events when invited, clearly has an interest in education initiatives and has supported legislation sending more money to schools.

But that’s not to say the school district and school board have agreed with his every move.

Johnston was one of the six Republicans who brought major amendments on HB1234, the controversial teacher tenure and bonus pay bill, which the school board opposed.

The last of Johnston’s amendments postponed the tenure change from 2012 to 2016. Still, Johnston ultimately voted for the bill, which Alberty railed against.

Here’s a look at how the two match up on some other 2012 bills:

Johnston sponsored and the school district supported:

HB1226, which would have permanently increased the index factor in the per-student formula

SB124: The state ended up getting a bigger windfall than expected from the 8.6 percent funding cut in FY12; the bill would have given that extra money to schools.

Johnston sponsored and the district opposed:

SB139 provided Teach for America a state match to help them expand to more Indian reservation schools (The board wanted any education money to go to all schools through the formula)

SB186: Public schools are required to loan textbooks to home-schooled and private school students. The bill expanded the definition to include other instruction materials that are not books.

Johnston prime-sponsored and the district took no position:

SB98, would have created math and science academies for high school seniors at the University Centers in Sioux Falls and Rapid City (The board said they already offer six AP courses in math and science, as well as related CTE Academy courses)

Which colleges produce the best teachers? Tenn. knows

There’s a new report out in Tennessee that shows which of that state’s colleges and other teacher-preparation programs turn out the best teachers.

Using value-added measures (how students perform on tests before and after a year with that teacher), the state identified Lipscomb University and two Teach for America programs as the best. All three produced teachers better than the average veteran teacher.

Fourteen programs produced teachers who perform worse than the average veteran. And graduates at nine colleges do worse than the average beginning teacher.

It’s a big report, but you can download the pdf here.

This type of analysis is not yet possible in South Dakota, because we don’t have a statewide longitudinal data system that automatically links student scores to individual teachers.

“For us to really lead and make changes in education and not just react, it’s very important,” Tami Darnall told me in June.

Darnall is the state’s finance and management director for SDDOE and has been leading the state’s data system efforts. She said in June that the data system should be ready in a couple years.

Meanwhile, the University of South Dakota is working with the Bush Foundation on a separate data system for its teaching program. I’m sure USD Education Dean Rick Melmer is eager to see how his graduates stack up to the rest of the state’s colleges.

Courtesy of the Data Quality Campaign, here are some questions that can be answered with a longitudinal data system:

-Which teachers consistently get the most individual student growth in their classrooms?

- What percentage of students require remedial courses in college?

- Which education colleges produce the most effective teachers, as measured by student performance?

- In which classes, grades and schools does class size matter?

- How does student performance in traditional courses compare to those enrolled in online courses?

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