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Jefferson County Teachers Union Pushes for Wiggle Room in Teacher Evaluations

The Jefferson County Teachers Association says it wants more freedom to create its own teacher and principal evaluations, which are expected to be in place by the 2014-2015 school year. 
The teachers union has supported amendments to legislation, HB 180, that would allow school districts the opportunity to implement their own evaluation systems with automatic approval by the Kentucky Board of Education if they meet certain criteria spelled out in the bill, which include student test scores, student growth and other measures (see below).  The Kentucky Department of Education has been piloting parts of the system throughout the state including in some Jefferson County public schools. But McKim says he’s still unsure how the state’s evaluations would play out in JCPS once fully implemented and he believes local districts should be able to use their own methods for assessing teachers. “There are a lot of things that have yet to be determined and so we don’t really know what we’d be agreeing to at this point,” he says. McKim says an example of what he’d like to see in the JCPS evaluation system is the use of student surveys, but he says that will need to be discussed in contract negotiations with the district that will happen later this year.  Further, McKim says he’s been considering evaluation systems outside the state, including Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland. “They have an evaluation system in place there that has been in place for about 12 years and has been very effective,” he says. Although Montgomery County students perform well above the national average by most measures, the system is not eligible for certain federal funds because it doesn’t use student growth or test scores in its teacher evaluations, according to a New York Times article. Also, the teacher's union is currently in a dispute with the state which is trying to change the district's evaluation system to align with a state model that will use student test scores and growth to evaluate its teachers in order to receive certain federal funds, according to the Washington Post. Kentucky’s proposed law, HB 180, passed the House and is currently in the Senate. Below is the criteria in the proposed law that districts would need to meet to request using its own teacher evaluations.

(a) Is as rigorous, reliable, valid, and educationally sound as the statewide professional growth and effectiveness system; (b) Uses multiple measures of effectiveness, including student growth data as a significant factor in determining the effectiveness of teachers and administrators, that utilize both state standardized tests and local formative growth measures that are rigorous and comparable across schools in a local district; (c) Includes both formative and summative evaluation components; (d) Measures professional effectiveness; (e) Supports professional growth; (f) Has at least three (3) performance levels; (g) Is used to inform personnel decisions; (h) Is considerate of the time requirements of evaluators at the local level and does not require that all certified school personnel have a formal summative evaluation each year; and (i) Rates teachers and administrators by multiple measures instead of a single measure.