New Colorado Pilot Program Deals with Teacher Evaluation

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In a strong show of shared commitment to ensuring great teaching and great teachers, the Douglas County, Colo., teachers union, school board and school district signed an agreement on Jan. 19 to work as partners to create and implement a teacher development and evaluation system.

"Everyone set aside any differences they had because of a mutual desire to move forward as a team dedicated to what is best for our students and teachers," says Brenda Smith, president of the AFT-affiliated Douglas County Federation, which represents 3,400 teachers.

The agreement commits the teachers union, the school board and the superintendent to work as partners to develop and implement a continuous improvement model for teacher development and evaluation. The model will include multiple measures by which to evaluate teacher performance and student learning. It will be used to revise the district's differentiated-pay program (which began in 1994), to inform future tenure decisions and to develop teacher leaders.

The plan will be piloted during the 2010-11 school year in several Douglas County schools and is scheduled to be implemented in all Douglas County schools in the 2011-12 school year.

Douglas County's partnership comes on the heels of a Jan. 12 speech by AFT president Randi Weingarten encouraging such comprehensive teacher development and evaluation systems and labor-management partnerships.

"Douglas County teachers, school board members and the superintendent are showing the nation the way to better schools, teachers and student achievement," Weingarten says. "Working in partnership is the essential ingredient to transform good ideas into reality. I applaud every member of the team for his or her efforts, and for leading Douglas County schools toward a 21st-century education system." [AFT press release]

January 21, 2010