Legislature passes educator accountability bill
A bill that some have called "landmark" legislation addressing school educator accountability passed the full Legislature Tuesday evening.
"This bill represents historic collaboration efforts between the Legislature, parents and the public education community throughout the state," said House bill sponsor Rep. Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton. "This is the first piece of legislation where we look at holding administrators instead of just teachers responsible."
The House passed SB64 by 73-1 on Tuesday, and the bill now awaits the Gov. Gary Herbert's signature.
The bill would require administrators to undergo annual evaluations based on student academic progress; ability to complete teacher evaluations; feedback from parents, employees and students; and other criteria to be decided by a local school board. It would also eventually tie at least 15 percent of their pay to performance.
It would also establish four new performance categories for all school employees, including teachers, based on annual evaluations. Those who receive low ratings would not get scheduled raises. Those who get poor performance ratings twice in three years could be fired. And when teachers perform poorly, administrators would have up to 120 days to either remediate them or make employment decisions.
The bill would also require school districts to publicly report the numbers and percentages of teachers in each performance category, though individual evaluations would be private.
Teacher evaluations would have to be based on student learning growth or achievement and instructional quality.
The bill was the result of months of work by sponsor Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, who began meeting with education groups and teachers last year to get their input on versions of the proposal. Ultimately, the bill won support from the state school board, the Utah Education Association, the Utah PTA, the state's business communities, the Governor's Education Excellence Commission and the Utah School Boards Association.
Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, said the bill came about as a result of the sponsor talking to and listening to teachers.
"Now, that shouldn't be a novel idea, but it really has been in many ways in this Legislature," Moss said. "The difference in the way teachers who are on the front lines every day with our kids respond to this kind of respect and collaboration is very clear."
State Superintendent Larry Shumway said the bill is an example of "the kind of work we can do when we work together."
"The point of the bill was to create a situation in which schools can focus on improving the quality of instruction in every classroom, and I hope the changes made will allow districts and teachers and administrators and principals to all work together for that end," Shumway said.
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