Capitol Daily Memo: Committee OKs yearly teacher evaluations

A bill that would require Utah teachers and school administrators to be evaluated each year cleared a legislative committee on Monday.

SB 64, sponsored by Senator Aaron Osmond (R-South Jordan), would require the State Board of Education to design a program for school districts to evaluate their employees. Pay for school and district administrators would be linked to those evaluations; pay for teachers would not, although Senator Osmond said he is running a separate bill that could link teacher pay to performance.

While the bill would give the State Board discretion in making rules for evaluating teachers, it specifies that evaluations for school and district administrators must include at least student achievement results, “a periodic 360 degree evaluation tool,” and a report of administrators’ effectiveness in evaluating the employees in their own school or district.  The bill would also define more specifically the process a district must follow in order to fire a teacher for poor performance.  

Sutherland Institute testified in favor of the bill, stating that the public education system as a whole should be based on performance and that SB 64 is a step in the right direction. We expressed our hope that teacher pay would also be connected to performance and that principals would have more autonomy in managing their schools, as we outlined in our 2009 proposal for a performance-based system.

The Senate Education Committee passed the bill out with a favorable recommendation 6-0-1. You can listen to the committee meeting by going here.

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  • Anonymous

    Yearly evaluations for teachers already exist.  Principals?  No.  Let’s get this stuff straight.

    • Matthew Piccolo

      Are teacher evaluations required or do they just exist? This bill would require evaluations for every teacher in the state and institute certain parameters for those evaluations.

      • Anonymous

        I don’t complete the evaluations, but I have seen my own.  Yes, they have parameters, rubrics, etc. for evaluative purposes.

        They are required, but getting an administrator to do them and do them well is another story.

  • Diane Robertson

    I usually agree with Sutherland, but I think one of the biggest problems in public education is all of the ridiculous red tape and and paper work and the money waste from that. This bill will only add to that and make the teachers look bad in the eyes of the students and parents. I think we should be able to trust our teachers to do a good job. I also think that test scores are NOT a good evaluation of the teacher, I think they are a better evaluation of the parents and the community as a whole.

    There are so many disruptive kids with a variety of problems. Teachers have to spend more time keeping order then actually teaching. My kids got rewards for not being sent to the principal’s office in a single term. Apparently that was a legitimate award because it was unusual. To me that says the problem comes from poor parenting and the teachers and principals not being able to disciplines effectively at school. When I was in school 90% of us were terrified of the principal. 

  • Dmk36

    Yearly evaluations for teachers already exist. They consist almost entirely on 2 hours that a principal visits a classroom and observes teaching. While I recognize that this Bill does not address teacher pay, I am concerned that teacher pay would be influenced by phony evaluations. Any GREAT teacher can have an off time for 2 hours of the year, and any horrible teacher can fake it for the same amount of time.  I don’t know of any principal who has the time (on top of everything else they already have to do) to give a legitimate evaluation of what kind of teaching is happening in any classroom. Until that solution can be fixed, it would be a VERY bad idea to tie teacher pay to evaluations.  There is simply no way to adequately and fairly measure a good teacher or a bad teacher, although both clearly exist.

    • Matthew Piccolo

      Thanks for your comment.  I agree that evaluating teachers properly and fairly is a difficult task.  I do know, however, that when I was a teacher my boss evaluated me 2-3 times a year and showed up randomly.  That way, I couldn’t fake my way through it and it was often enough that she got a good idea of my true performance.  I thought all of her evaluations were fair and accurate.  I recognize that not all administrators will do as good a job as my boss did, but I think most are capable of doing so.  Having pay tied to performance is, or should be, a fact of life.  That’s how it is for the vast majority of the working world, and I don’t know that it should be any different for teachers.  If principals had more control over their schools and less paperwork, etc. then they could focus more on teachers, which, along with students, should be their main focus.