Hickenlooper Signs Teacher Evaluation Bill for Colorado

Governor John Hickenlooper has signed a bill into law that would dramatically change the way teachers and principals will be evaluated and how they will earn or lose tenure in Colorado.

The rules were passed on Tuesday as House Bill 1001 with 99 of 100 possible votes in the general assembly, writes Yesenia Robles at the Denver Post.

Kerri Dallman, a member of the council who drafted the rules, said:

"The work the council did initially plus the input from the state board was truly collaborative.

"That's one of the reasons I think it sailed through without changes."

This comes after the hotly-debated Senate Bill 191, which was passed in 2010 and created a council that after more than a year of meetings developed evaluation rubrics and definitions of effective teachers and educators.

These definitions of effectiveness were approved by the state board of education before they were presented to the legislature. They included the need to demonstrate content knowledge, leadership and taking responsibility for student growth.

While not all the rules are set in stone, the Senate is still working on the development of an appeals process for teachers who receive two consecutive ineffective ratings – which triggers the loss of tenure.

The law also now requires 50 percent of teacher evaluations to be based on student test scores, but 70 percent of licensed teachers do not have standardized assessments for their grade level or the content they teach, writes Robles.

"Colorado is working on developing guides and assessments for those untested subjects, so that districts have tests to pick from that can provide reliable data."

Dallman believes it's now up to district officials to find ways to implement the rules:

"Our district is looking at a cost of $4.2 million or $4.8 million for the first year. In a district where we just cut $37.5 million last year, that's really going to be a struggle.

"To ensure educators have the proper training and administrators have enough time, I don't know that we will come up with that $4.8 million."

As the Colorado Department of Education pilots the plan in the Jefferson County School District and various others, every school district will soon be expected to either adopt the state system or create their own similar system by 2014-2015 school year.

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