ESSA may have passed. But Illinois still has PERA.


Illinois Executive Director Audrey Soglin.

The two national teacher unions are swooning in delight over the newly passed Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). ESEA is newly branded as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

I received several emails yesterday from the IEA and the NEA congratulating me for contacting Senators Kirk and Durbin. They voted yes.

The AFT and the NEA’s appreciation is misplaced. Yes. I contacted Kirk and Durbin about the inclusion of Pay for Success. I asked them to oppose it. I didn’t get a response. But I was never convinced that ESSA is quite the repudiation of No Child Left Behind and Duncanism that the union top dogs claim it is.

Under ESSA individual states are supposed to regain the authority to figure out how to evaluate teachers. Too late to close that barn door. I’m pretty sure it isn’t going to change the way teachers in Illinois get evaluated. This is true for other states that applied for Race to the Top grants as well.

During the days of Duncan’s Race to the Top, Illinois applied for a grant. To even apply for a grant Illinois had to link teacher evaluation to individual student performance. It was our version of Value Added.

Pat Quinn – he was governor at the time – created a commission to write the application and legislation making Illinois compliant with the RTTT requirements. The commission was chaired by the IEA’s Executive Director, Audrey Soglin.

The legislation was passed by the Illinois legislature and signed by Quinn.

PERA, the Performance Evaluation Reform Act became a part of Illinois Senate Bill 7, which undermined tenure and seniority along with creating the non-reseach based link between teacher evaluation and individual student performance.

By the Fall of 2016, every Illinois school district must have something in place that is compliant with PERA and SB7. It is statutory and nothing in ESSA will undo it.

“We will see the end of test and punish,” NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia said.“We will see the end of hit your cut score or somebody gets punished.”

Not in Illinois, we won’t. Or in other states who drank RTTT Kool-Aid.

In Illinois, that will be Arne Duncan and Audrey Soglin’s legacy.


4 thoughts on “ESSA may have passed. But Illinois still has PERA.

  1. Doesn’t part of PERA clearly state, that the calculus of teacher evaluation must be reliable and valid? VAM is neither. Isn’t that a place to start, not to mention, the state never received an RTTT grant.

    1. After failing to qualify for a grant in the first two rounds, Illinois did get a grant in the third round. $43 million to, ironically, create and assess assessments.

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