Teacher tenure rules favored

Bill would change performance evaluations

DENVER – New rules for judging good and bad teachers received overwhelming support from legislators Monday.

The unanimous vote for House Bill 1001 in the Legal Services Committee was a stark contrast to two years ago, when a bill to do away with seniority-based job protections for teachers led to a civil war within the Democratic Party.

The bill pitted supporters of teachers unions against Democrats and Republicans who wanted to make it easier to fire ineffective teachers.

But after nearly two years of drafting rules for how to evaluate teachers, different factions appear to have agreed on a fair way to link teacher tenure to student performance.

“It truly is one of those times that everybody is aligned around a common purpose on behalf of our children,” said Diana Sirko, deputy commissioner of the Colorado Department of Education.

HB 1001 gives legislative approval to the teacher-evaluation system created by teacher union officials, school-reform activists and state experts. The Legislature and Gov. John Hickenlooper are on a Feb. 15 deadline to OK the rules.

All of the school districts in Southwest Colorado have joined a pilot program of 27 districts to try out the new system before it begins statewide.

This year, the pilot districts are trying out the principal-evaluation system. Beginning this fall, they will test the system for teachers.

The system is scheduled to debut statewide in the 2013-14 school year. When it does, teachers will have half of their performance ratings based on the performance of their students.

The Department of Education is working with several hundred teachers to figure out exactly how to measure student performance.

“What’s a reasonable way to measure growth in third-grade music, fifth-grade social studies?” Sirko asked.

HB 1001 is headed next to the full House of Representatives.

jhanel@durangoherald.com

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