Teacher standards formed by local input

Jim Smyth had his doubts about Senate Bill 191 when the Colorado Legislature passed it last year.

The Mesa Valley Education Association president worried that the bill, which takes away a teacher’s nonprobationary status after two years of being evaluated as ineffective, may make it harder for teachers to defend themselves or feel comfortable in a school.

But after joining the State Council on Educator Effectiveness in January, he changed his mind. The 15-member council, initiated 13 months ago by the bill, was tasked with making recommendations to the Colorado Board of Education about how teachers and principals should be evaluated under the new system.

“I feel what we have come up with, if implemented judiciously ... will be a very effectivetool,” Smyth said.

The recommendations, presented to the state board of education Wednesday, will inform the board’s suggestions to the Legislature for the evaluation system.

The Legislature will take those recommendations and form a bill next year solidifying the evaluation criteria. The Colorado Board of Education and the council will monitor the effectiveness of the bill and its pilot implementation.

The evaluation system will become official statewide in fall 2014 and will be tested in districts during the two school years prior to finalization. That will allow districts to work out the kinks, Smyth said.

School District 51 already has an evaluation system similar to the one being suggested by the council, according to Superintendent Steve Schultz.

But the district may have to make some changes to abide by new state guidelines and likely will have to find time and money to train principals and the district’s directors of elementary, middle and high schools about how to implement the new rules.

Meanwhile, the district predicts at least $10 million will be cut from next year’s school budget, and Schultz is not sure how to fund evaluation changes around the same time as other statewide education changes, such as implementing new content standards this fall and gearing up for a replacement for Colorado Student Assessment Program tests. A hybrid of CSAP testing standards and new standards will be implemented next spring and will be called the Transitional Colorado Assessment Program test, or TCAP.

“I continue to worry about practicality,” Schultz said.

Schultz said he supports the goals of Senate Bill 191 and the additional feedback it will offer teachers through yearly evaluations.

Nonprobationary teachers are required to have an evaluation once every three years. But, he said, some details still need to be worked out. For example, the evaluation standards include student growth and performance on CSAP, but that data applies only to third- through 10th-grade teachers who teach reading, writing or math, and fifth-, eighth- and 10th-grade science teachers.


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