Colorado Committee to Unveil Complex Definition of "Effective Educator" (CO)
April 14, 2011
After 13 months of meetings, a council tasked with narrowing the definition of an effective educator to one for the entire state is presenting the definition to the State Board of Education today.
It is not a simple definition, though. It consists of six quality standards, including showing knowledge of the content they teach, demonstrating leadership and taking responsibility for student growth.
“Teachers can’t go in and close their doors anymore,” said Kerri Dallman, president of the Jefferson County Education Association and a member of the council. “We as teachers have to have difficult, crucial conversations with our colleagues. We have to be reflective individually and collectively.”
The Colorado Council on Educator Effectiveness also made 60 recommendations on how to evaluate teachers and principals using the new definition. Those recommendations would require districts to engage teachers in selecting or developing measurement tools for their evaluations and will strongly encourage districts to use student and parent surveys as part of evaluations.
Districts will be requir ed to use Colorado Student Assessment Program data and the results of another test — which they can select or create — to measure teacher effectiveness. Test data make up 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation, under Senate Bill 191, passed last year.
Council members said they were careful in selecting which recommendations to ask for as state requirements, and which to have as options.
The key was striking a balance between creating consistency throughout the state, while allowing flexibility for districts based on the students they serve and available resources.
“Kids are not all the same; districts have to be able to emphasize the skill they know their students need,” said council co-chairwoman Nina Lopez.
But effective teachers shouldn’t have to teach based on a new evaluation system if they change schools, council members said.
The 15-member council was appointed by then-Gov. Bill Ritter as part of an application for Race to the Top funding from the federal government.
In their work, the council also estimated each district will spend about $53 per student to implement the evaluation system. Costs may increase if a district has many ineffective teachers who require more support.
The state board has until the fall to approve and implement rules based on the recommendations. Legislators will get their chance to review and approve or veto the rules in February.
“There’s a fear of the line-item veto pen,” said Matt Smith, co-chairman and at-large council member. “It’s really hard to pick one stick out and not have the whole system collapse.”
In the meantime, some districts in the state will test the recommendations in a pilot starting in August.
“We are recommending that the state develop a model system to pilot in different versions, so that at the end of the pilot we can check if it’s comparable enough,” Lopez said.
The evaluations will not have consequences for teachers until about 2016.