A Big No on Evaluations Bill SB22-070

An Educator’s Perspective on SB22-070 –  Licensed Personnel Performance Evaluations  

​​SB-070 (Jeff Bridges) bill – Kindergarten Through Twelfth Grade Licensed Personnel Performance Evaluations – Concerning licensed personnel performance evaluations in public schools.   

https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/sb22-070

We’ve seen this bill before in previous sessions from the same legislator, and just as in the previous session, we still question Senator Bridges’ motive.  While Sen. Bridges may point out that he’s making concessions to educators by dropping the percentage (from 50% to 30%) of how much evaluations will be based on “the academic growth of students” aka test scores, it’s well known within the K-12 community that these educator performance evaluations are more of a hardship requiring time and dollars school districts just don’t have.  They didn’t have it before COVID, they most certainly don’t have them now.

If you visit with any reputable teachers (when you have the educator shortage we are suffering now, that pretty much covers everyone – they should be considered reputable simply because they’re still here; they’re certainly not doing it for the money, so it must be their passion and dedication to students that has kept them there) they will tell you these evaluations have done nothing to help make them better at their jobs. Recent research shows there is no evidence that the reforms had even small positive positive effect on student achievement or educational attainment. 

We took this bill to a highly respected (recently retired) educator here in Jeffco, Stephanie Rossi. Stephanie retired after 40 years in the profession, served on the district evaluations committee, and received numerous awards during her career. In Jeffco, she was considered the epitome of excellence in educators.

https://www.denverpost.com/2020/05/09/wheat-ridge-high-school-stephanie-rossi-retirement-coronavirus/

With Stephanie’s permission, here’s her take:

“I read through the Evaluation bill and while I appreciate the efforts of Senator Bridges and others, who are trying to protect teachers to some degree, I still find little to no value in connecting student growth to teacher evaluations, and the research shows that as well. The article below came out in November of 2021 and looked at what happened because of this idea. I know the larger percentage of teachers create learning goals that they can achieve with their students before them, and I always created a goal where I knew 80% of my students would achieve because of how I taught the skill set. Did this force me to be a better teacher, or was I doing it anyway because my students needed the skill to pass an AP exam or both? Was I simply ‘killing two birds with one stone?’ Yes, and yes but I do not know if I was a better teacher because of it.  With all the variables in each classroom each year, and more that is being asked of teachers (social and emotional learning) I always picked a goal I knew I could accomplish because I would have done it anyway.”

Stephanie also added, “hoop jumping to check off some mandatory requirement does not make us better teachers but demonstrates what educators are forced to do as time to craft effective lesson plans and curricula is chipped away at year after year as more is asked and nothing is ever removed from their plates. Effectiveness gets sacrificed at the political altar of ‘we-have-a-new-law-that-makes-teachers-better-educators’ while educators are drowning in work to get students to read, to understand math, to feel emotionally whole, to be better writers, etc. It simply does not work.”

Ed WeekEfforts to Toughen Teacher Evaluations Show No Positive Impact on Students  (Nov, 2021) 

https://www.edweek.org/teaching-learning/efforts-to-toughen-teacher-evaluations-show-no-positive-impact-on-students/2021/11 

We’re giving SB22-070 a big thumbs down.  We are grateful for Stephanie’s time to give us her input.  While we are at it, we want to thank all of our educators for hanging in there.  We repeat what we shared in our article a few weeks back:  The American Teacher should be People of the Year every year  http://www.supportjeffcokids.org/the-american-teacher-should-be-people-of-the-year-every-year/

In the article, we shared that “… only 1% of CEA members claim to feel valued by our state leaders…and only 10% of CEA members say they feel valued by their respective school districts.”

“And then there are our nation’s teachers, whose resilience has been unbelievably inspiring these past two years.. the 3 million-plus classroom heroes who have gone above and beyond to ensure our nation’s kids have bright opportunities ahead. Our future depends on supporting them and their work.”  

That’s what we need from our legislators, school districts, and school communities.