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News Release - State Council For Educator Effectiveness Presents Recommendations For Evaluating Teachers And Principals

Apr. 13, 2011

News Release

State Council For Educator Effectiveness Presents Recommendations For Evaluating Teachers And Principals

For the first time, definitions and expectations of “effective educators” will be the same across the state

After 13 months of work, the State Council for Educator Effectiveness today presented 60 recommendations to the Colorado State Board of Education for a new statewide teacher and principal evaluation system. To see the detailed recommendations, visit:

Pending approval this fall by the Colorado State Board of Education, Colorado will have common statewide definitions of “effective teachers” and “effective principals," performance standards, performance rating categories and evaluation scoring frameworks – all of which have been developed as part of the Council’s work.

“Teachers and principals will have clear expectations – and, for the first time, those expectations will be the same across the state,” said council vice chair Nina Lopez, also special assistant to the commissioner, Colorado Department of Education. “Those expectations coupled with greater support and resources for teachers and principals are expected to directly impact achievement.”

In the past, state law required districts to rate educators as either satisfactory or not satisfactory. Now, teachers’ and principals’ evaluations will place them in one of four categories: highly effective, effective, partially effective and ineffective. Also, an educator’s non-probationary status will be based on effectiveness in the classroom – not years of service.

“We know that classroom instruction and principal leadership are the strongest predictors of student achievement,” said Commissioner of Education Robert Hammond. “Educators deserve ongoing training and support, and meaningful, frequent feedback on what’s working and what’s not to ensure every Colorado student is successful.”

Districts are urged, but not required, to use student and parent survey data to inform teacher and principal evaluations.

The council also recommends aligning teacher preparation programs in colleges and universities with the new performance standards for teachers and principals, so that students who graduate from teacher prep programs will have more of the skills Colorado values before they step into a classroom.

Up to 50 percent of teachers’ and principals’ evaluations will be based on how well they meet the performance standards and fulfill district priorities. The other 50 percent will be based on their students’ academic growth. In light of these requirements, the Council recommends the Colorado Department of Education:

  • Develop state assessments for science and social studies
  • Facilitate a state consortium to explore the best approach to support and measure academic outcomes for young students in preschool through second grade
  • Work with districts to develop ways to measure and assess student growth for educators who teach subjects or grade levels not tested by state assessments

Elements of the new educator evaluation system will be piloted in select school districts beginning in the 2011-2012 school year. The Council recommends extending the pilot period from two years to three years to analyze data and to create resources that support districts. This would delay statewide implementation by one year – to the 2014-15 school year.

A cost study conducted recently for the Council estimates that districts could incur a one-time start-up cost of $53 per student. For ongoing annual evaluation, estimates for teachers and principals vary depending on their rating of effectiveness. For example, increased supervision and training for a teacher with an “ineffective” rating could run as much as $3,873 a year. Teachers and principals rated as “effective” could cost between $406-$531 extra due to increased data analysis and more frequent evaluations than in the past.

Recognizing that these costs will be a burden for districts already under severe financial pressure, the Council advises the state to lessen the impact by providing the maximum assistance allowable to districts. Districts, in turn, may need to explore reallocating resources and securing grant funding.

“Students are the ultimate customers of this system,” said Council chair Matt Smith, vice president of engineering, United Launch Alliance. “They have to be number one.”

Role of the State Council For Educator Effectiveness
The Council’s work is guided by the state’s landmark teacher and principal evaluation law, Senate Bill 10-191. It requires evaluating every educator in the state at least once each school year, and basing at least half of each teacher’s and principal’s evaluation on student academic growth.

The Council has four main roles:

  • Define “teacher effectiveness” and “principal effectiveness”
  • Establish levels of effectiveness and performance standards
  • Develop guidelines for a fair, rigorous and transparent system to evaluate teachers and principals
  • Recommend state policy changes to prepare, evaluate and support teachers and principals

Over the last year, the Council has explored what factors contribute to effective teaching and school leadership, how that effectiveness is measured and what strategies are required for supporting continuous improvement.

The Council studied research and best practices, and spoke with experts in local school districts and across the country about what’s best for Colorado, all while balancing state requirements with local values.

The Council’s 15 members – teachers, school administrators, a parent, a student, school board members, a senior executive from the aerospace industry and a university professor – were appointed by former Gov. Bill Ritter Jr., in January 2010.

“I want to thank the Council for its strong leadership and tireless commitment on behalf of Colorado kids and our public schools,” said Lt. Gov. Joseph Garcia. “I believe the Council’s efforts will result in better outcomes for students, educators and, ultimately, for Colorado.”

Input from the Field
The Council asked stakeholders for feedback on their draft recommendations in February and March. More than 1,750 people responded to the Council’s online survey alone. A majority were teachers.

Since February, Council members met with more than 500 people to gather input and to ask what resources districts need the most.

During the presentation today, board members asked a series of initial questions prior to a more full-blown discussion that Board Chairman Bob Schaffer said would likely take place at the next state board meeting in May. Board Member Elaine Gantz Berman asked for more detail on the council’s recommendations for how performance standards should be weighted relative to each other in the evaluation process. Board Member Marcia Neal asked about the number—and location—of pilot programs being envisioned and urged that it include a representative cross-section of districts, including rural.

Board Member Paul Lundeen said, “This is great work, this is important work,” and Debora Scheffel thanked the council for its “great leadership.” Board Member Jane Goff said the presentation of ideas from the council is a “special moment” and is “something the state should be proud of.”

Board Chairman Schaffer said the council’s recommendations assume that students are a captive audience and wondered if the system would encourage teachers to “push [the] bad students out of school” since 50 percent of the evaluation will depend on student growth. Students who drop out of school or a parent who opts to enroll a student in a different school, he suggested, are also valid indicators of a school’s quality and aren’t factored into the council’s approach.

Next Steps
The Colorado State Board of Education will review the Council’s recommendations in light of promulgating rules for a new statewide evaluation system by November 2011. These rules will return to the state legislature in 2012 for a final review. State legislators may veto individual rules set forth by the state board of education.

The Council’s work is not over. Members will monitor the new evaluation system and identify improvements based upon results of the pilot that starts during the 2011-2012 school year.

The Council’s recommendations for an appeals process are due to the General Assembly in January 2013. That process will outline how teachers may appeal a second consecutive rating of ineffective.

For more information on the State Council for Educator Effectiveness, visit

For more information, contact Janelle Asmus, 303-866-6822, or Megan McDermott, 303-866-2334, in the CDE Office of Communications. To sign up for the CDE e-mail news service, please visit

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