Nov 28, 2011 7:46 PM by Andy Koen

Grading teachers: state rolls out report card system

Teachers in Colorado will soon be taking home a report card of their own. The Colorado Department of Education has released new guidelines that help local districts evaluate teacher and principal effectiveness.

Under Senate Bill 191, which passed in 2010, teachers can lose tenure if their students fail to demonstrate academic growth over a period of two consecutive years. Also, tenure must now be earned by demonstrating three consecutive years of academic growth.

The CDE has been developing the framework for measuring that growth for the past 18 months. Half of a teacher's grade is based on student achievement as measured by C-SAP and other standardized tests. The other half is based on professional development.

Principals can measure a teacher's development in 5 areas; their knowledge of content, their teaching environment, how they learning, their personal reflection on practice and their demonstration of leadership.

"It's an effort to bring the focus to student progress because that's what public education or any education should be about," said Paul Lundeen, the Colorado Board of Education member representing the 5th Congressional District. He says the reforms will help the state increase achievement.

"It's a way for each teacher to be measured and each leader also, principals in the schools will be measured also, base at least in part (50 percent) on student achievement."

Some education advocates are calling into question the costs of the new law. Angela Engel of the group Uniting 4 Kids says the reforms are growing bureaucracy at the expense of classrooms.

She points out the number of employees working for the CDE has grown by 41 percent in the past decade. During much of that same time period, lawmakers have slashed funding to local school districts.

"We're seeing that department get bigger and bigger, we're seeing the United States Department of Education getting bigger and bigger and where we want to grow is in the classroom and with the student," Engel said.

Pilot programs of the new teacher grading system will be introduced later this school year in districts across the state. In Colorado Springs, Harrison District 2 has already adopted a pay for performance model and Lundeen says their administrators will simply compare the standards to the practices they are already using.

Under SB-191, lawmakers must vote this spring whether to accept the new standards as law.


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