Former Foes Meet to Tackle Teacher Evaluation Law

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1min 30sec

More than 500 Colorado teachers, principals and administrators came together Monday to start figuring out how to comply with the state's new teacher effectiveness law. The event was a rare meeting of the minds among groups that are often on opposite sides of school policy issues.

Here’s a transcript of Colorado Public Radio’s education reporter Jenny Brundin's report.

Reporter Jenny Brundin: Just two years ago, the so-called "Great Teachers and Leaders Law" ignited a firestorm among educators. It required half of teachers’ annual evaluations to be based on student academic growth, as measured in part by test scores. Rebuilding trust among supporters and opponents of the plan began in earnest during yesterday's summit on implementing the complex system.

Helayne Jones: In this state, it has really become not a battle, but a challenge.

Reporter: Helayne Jones heads the Colorado Legacy Foundation, which helped coordinate the summit. She noted it was the first time in 20 years that groups representing Colorado teachers, principals and school districts jointly hosted a conference. Districts piloting the evaluation system said it’s been hard work, but they hope it will lead to better teachers and principals. Everyone, however, is worried there’s not enough money to design a first rate system. Bruce Caughey of the Colorado Association of School Executives says with budget cuts, principals are struggling to find time to do teacher evaluations now.

Bruce Caughey: It creates a very serious time pressure on principals, but where do we find the time and people to do the work?

Reporter: Tony Salazar is with the Colorado Education Association, the state teachers' union. He says with all the reforms and budget cuts, teachers are feeling a little overwhelmed too.

Tony Salazar: It’s a lot coming at them right now, so that’s why getting together today and trying to work through this as a team collaboratively, I think is a big first step.

Reporter: Schools across the state will start piloting the evaluation system in the next academic year. Teachers, principals and administrators all stressed, they’re up for the challenge.

[Photo: Colorado Education Association]