Bill To Weaken Teacher Evaluation Law Stalls

<p>(Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)</p>
<p>The Colorado State Capitol.</p>
Photo: Colorado State House, State Capitol, December 2015, Southwest Corner, Side, Snow
The Colorado State Capitol.

The bill would have eliminated the law’s requirement that 50 percent of a teacher's evaluation be based on a student's growth in test scores.

"We could continue to live in a world where we have no understanding of our students performance and how it’s related to our teachers performance and that’s what folks object to," said Sen. Mike Johnston, D-Denver, who sponsored the 2010 law.

Supporters of the bill argued the 50 percent requirement is unfair because it judges teachers based on the assumption that all students learn at similar rates. Sen. Nancy Todd, D-Aurora, also cited research showing many other factors impact a child’s ability to learn.

"If you’re not showing x-amount of growth with every one of those kids that maybe shows up, maybe doesn’t, maybe sleeps through class, maybe doesn’t, we’re punishing a teacher who is trying to reach every single child," Todd said.

The requirement that all teachers be evaluated annually has been in effect since the 2013-2014 school year. All teachers had to be evaluated in 2014-15 as well—but districts could decide if they wanted to include the student growth component – and for what “weight” they wanted to include it. This year scores from the new state standardized tests – PARCC - cannot be part of student growth because the data is not ready for use.

Also starting last year, if a teacher received two consecutive evaluations that were less than “effective” then they would lose their non-probationary status.

Under the bill, districts could have used student growth scores in up to 20 percent of evaluations if they chose. The bill would have also eliminated yearly evaluations for teachers rated effective or highly effective. Instead, they’d be evaluated every three years.

A good portion of the at-times emotional four-hour debate focused also on how many educators and administrators are reporting that over-testing is sapping students’ joy in learning and educators’ passion for teaching.