Amy Jones, a kindergarten teacher at Sunset Elementary School, discusses block towers with her student Azie Bartholomew on Thursday afternoon. The Colorado Department of Education has selected Moffat County School District to participate in a pilot program for Colorado Senate Bill 10-191, designed to establish a consistent statewide evaluation system for educators.

Photo by Michelle Balleck

Amy Jones, a kindergarten teacher at Sunset Elementary School, discusses block towers with her student Azie Bartholomew on Thursday afternoon. The Colorado Department of Education has selected Moffat County School District to participate in a pilot program for Colorado Senate Bill 10-191, designed to establish a consistent statewide evaluation system for educators.

Moffat County School District selected to pilot SB 10-191

2010 legislation incorporates student growth into teacher performance

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At a glance

• Moffat County School District accepted into five-year pilot program for Colorado Senate Bill 10-191.

• Bill designed to create consistent statewide teacher and principal evaluation system.

• System ranks teachers and principals in categories ranging from highly effective to ineffective; rankings could impact whether educators keep their nonprobationary status.

• Key components of bill include tying student growth to teacher evaluations.

Quotable

“By being one of the pilot districts, we’ll be able to tweak that (system) and be on the front edge on having effective teachers and effective leaders.”

— Jo Ann Baxter, Moffat County School Board president and State Council for Educator Effectiveness member

When Colorado Senate Bill 10-191 goes into effect in four years, it won’t be unfamiliar to Moffat County School District.

The Colorado Department of Education has accepted the district into a pilot program for the bill, also known as the “Great Teachers and Leaders Bill,” or the “Educator Effectiveness Bill,” signed into law in May 2010 by then-governor Bill Ritter.

Moffat County is one of 15 districts in the state selected to participate in the five-year program.

The bill, which goes into full effect in 2015, is designed to create a consistent statewide system for evaluating teachers, principals and other educators.

“By being one of the pilot districts, we’ll be able to tweak that (system) and be on the front edge on having effective teachers and effective leaders” in each school, said Jo Ann Baxter, Moffat County School Board president.

Baxter also is a member on the State Council for Educator Effectiveness, which is tasked with making recommendations to the state board of education on defining effective teachers and principals, creating standards for both, rating their performance and defining how the system would work for educators.

A key portion of the bill doesn’t go into effect until the pilot’s second year. It requires half of teachers’ and principals’ evaluations be based on student growth.

It’s unclear how that would apply to teachers in physical education, fine arts and other classes that don’t teach areas covered on the Colorado Student Assessment Program, Superintendent Joe Petrone said.

“There’s some guesses how that would work, but there’s no definitive explanation of what we can expect,” he said.

Districts are required to use CSAP scores to measure how much students are learning, but it can’t be the only way. The law requires districts to use at least one other measurement. That portion of the bill is still a work in progress, Baxter said.

The bill also requires districts to rate principals and teachers in one of four categories, ranging from highly effective to ineffective. When the bill takes full effect, those ratings could factor into personnel decisions. For example, if a teacher is rated ineffective or partially effective two years in a row, that educator risks losing his or her nonprobationary status, Baxter said.

“School districts then could treat you as a probationary teacher and not renew your contract,” she added.

But, Baxter said that component doesn’t apply to pilot districts. Instead, “We could still use the old method of counseling teachers and hopefully improving instruction” while the pilot is in effect, Baxter said.

SB 10-191 will put more attention on effective teachers and principals, she said, adding, “Those two things are critical if children are going to succeed.”

But, in her view, whether it will improve schools and education has yet to be seen.

“I can’t say definitively that it will help or not,” she said. “I’m going to wait and see.”

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