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Voter Guide To Missouri Amendment 3 On Teacher Tenure

Sylvia Maria Gross

A constitutional amendment on the Nov. 4 ballot seeks to drastically revamp teacher tenure based on student performance. 

Missouri Constitutional Amendment 3 would require that teachers' continued employment and pay be based on student performance evaluations and would change teacher contract lengths.

Ballot language:

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to: require teachers to be evaluated by a standards based performance evaluation system for which each local school district must receive state approval to continue receiving state and local funding; require teachers to be dismissed, retained, demoted, promoted and paid primarily using quantifiable student performance data as part of the evaluation system; require teachers to enter into contracts of three years or fewer with public school districts; and prohibit teachers from organizing or collectively bargaining regarding the design and implementation of the teacher evaluation system?Decisions by school districts regarding provisions allowed or required by this proposal and their implementation will influence the potential costs or savings impacting each district. Significant potential costs may be incurred by the state and/or the districts if new/additional evaluation instruments must be developed to satisfy the proposal’s performance evaluation requirements.

What it means:

If passed, Amendment 3 would give student test scores preference over teacher seniority when considering a teacher's continued employment. Teacher pay would be determined by the data collected. Contracts would be limited to three years or less. 

Collective bargaining by teachers over the evaluation processes also would be banned by Amendment 3.


Proponents of Amendment 3 are far and few between, as the main campaign for the amendment, called Teach Great, closed down over a month ago. Teach Great spokesperson Kate Casas told KCUR's Sam Zeff that after listening to voters across the state, there just wasn't enough confidence to keep pushing the issue.

"We realized after traveling around the state, doing surveying, that this was not the right time to deal with this issue," Casas said.

The amendment stems from St. Louis billionaire Rex Sinquefield's efforts to lobby for a bill to change teacher payment and tenure. Sinquefield reportedly spent $1.6 million of his own money to support Teach Great.


Protect Our Local Schools, a coalition of the Missouri School Board Association, the Missouri National Education Association, and The Missouri Association of School Administrators, has come out in opposition to Amendment 3. 

Protect Our Local Schools spokesman Mike Sherman told St. Louis Public Radio that using evaluations to determine teacher employment will distract educators from being able to truly help students learn.

"You don’t have teachers anymore; you have test administrators," Sherman said. "It takes weeks, and weeks and weeks of class time to prepare for standardized tests."

Cody Newill is part of KCUR's audience development team. Follow him on Twitter @CodyNewill or email him at cody@kcur.org.
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