School districts would have greater flexibility in deciding how much weight student academic performance would have in evaluating teachers under a bill that passed a Senate committee on March 26.
But Republicans who voted against the bill would …
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But Republicans who voted against the bill would rather let districts make that decision permanently, rather than the one-year freedom that the bill allows.
Right now, school boards are required to establish a principal- and teacher-evaluation process that bases at least 50 percent of an educator’s annual evaluation on the academic growth of students’ standardized testing scores.
The weight of poor student performance can adversely impact educators facing evaluation, which critics of the current law say is unfair because districts may not have the resources to follow through with the requirements.
The current requirement is mandated through 2010’s Senate Bill 191, which set a standard for educator performance evaluations.
Senate Bill 165 would allow school districts to decide how much — if any — student test data will factor into an educator’s performance evaluation, for the 2014-15 school year.
“This is a good compromise between moving forward (with the desire for sound academic requirements) and also being fair to students and education professionals across the state,” Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, a bill sponsor, told the Senate Education Committee.
Supporters of the legislation say that districts are already having a difficult time shifting their focus toward new testing this year, without having to keep up with existing mandates. Schools are moving from Transitional Colorado Assessment Program (TCAP) testing to a new system that will incorporate tests from a multi-state consortium.
The bill gives districts time to analyze the new student assessments before they’re used to evaluate teachers and principals.
The 50 percent student test data threshold will still be used for the current school year, but in a “hold harmless” manner, meaning educators cannot be adversely affected at evaluation time.
The bill received supportive committee testimony from key education groups. Jane Urschel, of the Colorado Association of School Boards, said the bill “provides considerable relief for teachers and administrators.” And Kerrie Dallman of the Colorado Education Association said the bill gives districts “more time and training before high-stakes decisions are made about teachers.”
The bill has Republican sponsorship in the House with Rep. Carole Murray of Castle Rock. But the vote in the Democrat majority Senate Education Committee fell on party lines.
Sen. Vicky Marble, R-Fort Collins, offered an unsuccessful amendment to the bill that would have allowed districts to decide the weight of student test data in educator evaluations on a permanent basis. Marble said that educators are buried in testing and evaluation mandates and that it’s unfair to ask districts to shoulder any more burdens.
“I cannot support this bill for a year, but I can support this bill in perpetuity,” she said.
The bill now heads for a vote in the full Senate.
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