Colorado’s first statewide teacher tenure standards appear headed for quick approval in the Legislature, as a joint committee voted unanimously to advance the proposed evaluation standards to the full House, according to an Associated Press (AP) report on CBS Denver 4. 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% on student test scores, are being praised by teachers groups, as well as groups that wanted stricter rules establishing employment protections sometimes called tenure.
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, teacher 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.
Another compromise: The evaluation standards require schools to have a “high-quality, high-performing” staff but don’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.
Source: CBS Denver 4, 1/23/12, By Kristen Wyatt (AP)
[Editor's Note: The Colorado statute amended the state's teacher tenure law that had existed without significant change since its enactment in 1953. Like such laws in states around the nation, the old statute moved teachers from "probationary" to "nonprobationary" (tenured) status automatically after three full years of continuous employment with the employing school district. Under the new law, a teacher's move to nonprobationary status is no longer automatic, but takes place after three consecutive years of "demonstrated effectiveness." A teachers may lose his or her nonprobationary status with two consecutive years of "demonstrated ineffectiveness."
In May 2010, Legal Clips summarized an article in the Los Angeles Times reporting that Colorado’s recently-enacted statute tying teacher evaluations to student progress could help build momentum for a national movement that seeks to overhaul how instructors’ tenure and pay is earned. The article noted that Colorado's new law requires that 50% of a teacher’s evaluation be based on students’ academic growth as measured partially by test scores. Colorado’s action comes amid a national debate over how to get the best teachers into the classroom and remove the ones who aren't doing a good job.]