Topeka A proposal from Gov. Sam Brownback to post teacher evaluations on school district websites was removed Thursday from a House education bill after it sparked outrage.
The action from House Education Committee Chairman Clay Aurand was a sign that he didn’t think the measure had much chance of staying in the bill anyway.
“There are bits and pieces I like,” Aurand, R-Belleville, told The Topeka Capital Journal after a committee hearing on the bill, which also would rewrite the funding formula, giving local districts more authority and responsibility for raising education dollars locally through property taxes.
He said previously the teacher evaluation proposal would “create more problems than it solves.”
Under the proposal, educators would be rated as highly effective, effective, progressing or ineffective. The formula for the rankings would be 50 percent on growth in student achievement, 40 percent on input from supervisors, peers, parents and students and 10 percent on the teachers’ contributions to the profession. The State Board of Education would define the exact criteria.
Teachers rated ineffective two years in a row would not be allowed to teach and schools could fire them if professional development opportunities had been provided. The proposal would also offer $5,000 bonuses for some highly effective teachers.
Mark Desetti, who represents the Kansas National Education Association, said the Brownback plan could damage collegiality among teachers by placing each in competition for the bonuses reserved for highly rated teachers.
Jon Hummel, the governor’s director of operations, said that discussion about added accountability was bound to “cause those who work within the system some anxiety.” But he said there is an up side.
“Wouldn’t it be helpful to know definitively who our best teachers are so they can be recognized?” Hummel asked. “Does the state have an obligation to students and teachers to identify and provide assistance to teachers who may be struggling? Should performance be a factor in personnel decisions? Yes.”
The teacher evaluation discussion comes as Kansas prepares to seek a waiver from some provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind education law. As part of the waiver, Kansas schools also would be required to use student test scores in evaluating teachers and administrators by the 2014-15 academic year. The state is piloting an evaluation system but has not yet determined details such as how much weight should be given to test scores and how to evaluate teachers of non-tested subjects such as art and music.
To obtain the waiver, the state is not required to post any of the evaluation information online.