Teaching Profession

Colorado Teacher-Evaluation Bill Enacted

By The Associated Press — May 18, 2010 2 min read

Colorado lawmakers last week passed a change to education law that would require teachers to be judged on the performance of their students and put their jobs on the line if they fail.

The bill was headed to Gov. Bill Ritter, a Democrat, who was planning to sign it into law. Backers think it will boost the state’s chances of winning $175 million in the second round of the Obama administration’s Race to the Top competition under the federal economic-stimulus program.

The final vote came in the state Senate on May 12, the last day of the session, as senators readopted the House version of the bill.

More Democrats, including two former teachers, cast votes for the bill the second time around because of a change made in the House allowing an appeals process for teachers who get bad evaluations and are on the verge of losing tenure.

Lawmakers had argued over whether it’s fair to judge teachers according to student performance, especially when class sizes are growing because of budget cuts and when parents aren’t involved in their children’s education.

Sen. Mike Johnston, a Democrat, said the debate came down to whether people believed that every student, regardless of family income or background, can learn.

“What we’re saying is that it matters that every one of those kids will get across the finish line because they’re our kids,” said Mr. Johnston, a freshman lawmaker who spearheaded the change.

Annual Reviews

Under the bill, teachers would be evaluated each year, with at least half their rating based on whether their students progressed during the school year.

Depending on their students’ performance, teachers could lose tenure and the right to appeal dismissal that comes with it. Currently, teachers can earn tenure after three years in the classroom.

A council appointed by Gov. Ritter would consider the details of the system and the criteria teachers would be judged by.

The bill put Democrats at odds with one of their traditional supporters, the state’s largest teachers’ union. Many teachers felt betrayed because Mr. Ritter had set up a process to figure out how to tie teacher evaluations to student growth in January as part of the state’s bid for the first round of Race to the Top grants.

After Colorado lost, Mr. Johnston, a former Teach For America teacher and principal, decided to push ahead with a bill that would tie effectiveness to tenure decisions.

Jane Urschel, the associate executive director of the Colorado Association of School Boards, said that previous attempts to change the evaluation system had failed over the years, but that this was the first time anyone had proposed linking evaluations to tenure decisions.

The bill divided Democrats more sharply in the House, where a core group of teachers-turned-lawmakers fought the proposal.

The Colorado Education Association still opposes the bill, but said it was glad that lawmakers slowed down the changes. Teachers with poor evaluations wouldn’t be at risk of losing tenure protections until 2015.

A version of this article appeared in the May 19, 2010 edition of Education Week as Colorado Teacher-Evaluation Bill Enacted

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Addressing Learning Loss: What Schools Need to Accelerate Reading Instruction in K-3
When K-3 students return to classrooms this fall, there will be huge gaps in foundational reading skills. Does your school or district need a plan to address learning loss and accelerate student growth? In this
Content provided by PDX Reading
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Culturally Relevant Pedagogy to Advance Educational Equity
Schools are welcoming students back into buildings for full-time in-person instruction in a few short weeks and now is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and systems to build
Content provided by PowerMyLearning
Classroom Technology Webinar Making Big Technology Decisions: Advice for District Leaders, Principals, and Teachers
Educators at all levels make decisions that can have a huge impact on students. That’s especially true when it comes to the use of technology, which was activated like never before to help students learn

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession Opinion Teachers Were Told to 'Give Grace' as the Pandemic Started. They Did That and Much More
Districts offered little guidance otherwise, writes researcher Lora Bartlett.
Lora Bartlett
4 min read
Illustration of teachers working
F. Sheehan/Getty
Teaching Profession Educators of Color: Schools Need to Better Support Racial Justice Efforts
A new survey of educators of color finds that few received any training for addressing racism and violence with their students.
5 min read
Image of a teacher and students.
nadia_bormotova/iStock/Getty
Teaching Profession Opinion I've Studied Teachers for 20 Years. The Pandemic Was Their Ultimate Challenge
Researcher Lora Bartlett wondered what was happening behind the scenes as teachers' cheerful voices radiated from her daughters' computers.
Lora Bartlett
4 min read
Opinion Bartlett1 KNOW THYSELF LINCOLN
Lincoln Agnew for Education Week
Teaching Profession Q&A Teachers' Union President: Say 'No to Censorship, and Yes to Teaching the Truth'
National Education Association President Becky Pringle discusses some of the challenges and priorities for the nation's largest teachers' union.
8 min read
National Education Association President Becky Pringle delivers a keynote address.
National Education Association President Becky Pringle delivers a keynote address at the union's representative assembly in early July.
Moses Mitchell/National Education Association