DENVER (AP) — Colorado’s first statewide teacher tenure standards appear headed for quick approval in the Legislature, as a joint committee voted unanimously Monday to advance the proposed evaluation standards to the full House.
The bill sets up a four-tiered review standard for teachers and principals and will be tested in 27 districts next school year if approved by both chambers and signed into law by Feb. 15, as expected.
The teacher evaluation standards — which rely 50 percent on student test scores — are being praised by teachers groups, as well as groups that wanted stricter rules establishing employment protections sometimes called tenure.
Monday’s hearing, in which a bipartisan House-Senate voted 9-0 in favor of the measure, was a far cry from heated debates in 2010, when the teacher tenure bill was passed on the condition that the details would go back to lawmakers for final approval in 2012.
“This legislation has the potential to make more difference than any other piece has,” testified Diana Sirko, a deputy commissioner for the Colorado department of Education.
The teacher evaluation standards came after more than a year of work among teachers, parents, school board members and community advocates. The final standards have found wide agreement partly because many details about how exactly teachers will be graded are still to be determined.
For example, teachers groups have worried that tenure evaluation standards wouldn’t fit certified educators who aren’t classroom teachers, such as music teachers or counselors. The pilot standards headed for approval in the Legislature simply set up committees to decide those standards later.
“The hardest work lies ahead of us,” said Kerrie Dallman, a high-school teacher and president of the Jefferson County Education Association.
Another compromise: The evaluations standard requires schools to have a “high-quality, high-performing” staff but doesn’t set a required percentage threshold of high-rated teachers.
If approved, the evaluation standards would require teachers to notch three consecutive “effective” ratings to receive the employment protections. Existing teachers with tenure would not lose that status unless they had two consecutive years of “ineffective” ratings.
Principals will also be rated under the new standards.
The teacher evaluations would be tested in 27 districts of varying sizes next school year. The evaluations would be used statewide in the 2013-14 school year.
– By Kristen Wyatt, AP Writer
(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)