Brown vetoes teacher database

In a compromise with the Legislature, Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed money for one of two education databases he wanted to eliminate.

Cutting about $2.5 million in federal funds for CALTIDES, a statewide data system that would have compiled information on teacher training, placement, and effectiveness, was among $24 million in cuts that the governor made while signing the state budget on Thursday. Vetoing the money for CALTIDES, the California Longitudinal Teacher Integrated Data Education System, avoids “the development of a costly technology program that is not critical,” Brown wrote in his veto message.

At the same time, he didn’t cut the $3 million for CALPADS, the statewide student database that he had dropped from his May budget revision and that the Legislature had then restored.

CALPADS, the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System, is more important of the two; although it’s been intensely criticized for delays, poor management and implementation, and technical problems, it’s within months of completion, and has been compiling individual student data on enrollment, course completion, attendance, grades, test results and graduation for three years. Eliminating it now would have created headaches for districts, which still would have had to collect some of the data, and denied the state potentially valuable information on what works in the classroom and which students are not being served well – and why.

CALTIDES is not yet off the ground. It would be designed to provide insights into the value of teacher preparation and training programs, teacher placements and effectiveness. It could, for example, provide information on the distribution of highly effective teachers in high-poverty schools. Its primary purpose would be to provide research to guide policies, although teachers have been wary of how it could be used to evaluate individual teachers.

State Board of Education President Michael Kirst said that Brown has not decided whether to scrap CALTIDES or delay it. Meanwhile, the governor’s office will continue to explore how postsecondary and early childhood data can be integrated with CALPADS, he said.

Author: John Fensterwald - Educated Guess

John Fensterwald, a journalist at the Silicon Valley Education Foundation, edits and co-writes "Thoughts on Public Education in California" (www.TOPed.org), one of the leading sources of California education policy reporting and opinion, which he founded in 2009. For 11 years before that, John wrote editorials for the Mercury News in San Jose, with a focus on education. He worked as a reporter, news editor and opinion editor for three newspapers in New Hampshire for two decades before receiving a Knight Fellowship at Stanford University in 1997 and heading West shortly thereafter. His wife is an elementary school teacher and his daughter attends the University California at Davis.

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