Bill to Overhaul California Teacher Evaluations Advances

Lauren Williams's picture
Friday, August 31, 2012

In a showdown pitting unions against education reformers and school districts, a bill to overhaul teacher evaluations passed a major legislative hurdle late Wednesday when it was approved by the Senate Education Committee.

If passed by the legislature, AB 5 would revamp teacher evaluations and would force each district to negotiate how they review teachers. It would add one performance level -- excellent -- to the current satisfactory and unsatisfactory categories. And instead of being required, state standardized test scores would be optional in measuring teachers.

Proponents hail the bill as progress. "I think it's an extremely positive step in the right direction," state schools Superintendent Tom Torlakson said. By making reviews more rigorous, comprehensive and frequent, the bill would improve education, he said. For instance, school boards would have to evaluate teachers on a continuing basis, measuring how well they accomplish specific objectives based on multiple observations by trained evaluators.

Opponents include the California State PTA, reformers such as Education Trust-West and EdVoice, plus the organizations representing school administrators, districts and trustees.

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