Clear expectations, rigorous evaluations, continued growth

Author icon: Head shot of Commissioner Stephen BowenIf this legislative session results in the passage of just one bill that brings about major improvements to our educational system, this would be it: LD 1858.

The bill, An Act to Ensure Effective Teaching and School Leadership, requires that our school districts adopt educator evaluation systems that make it clear to our teachers and school leaders what’s expected of them, offer them constructive advice on improving their practice and support them in their continued professional growth.

Fortunately, this bill is headed to Gov. LePage’s desk for his signature after attracting overwhelming support this week in the House and Senate — more than two-thirds approval in each chamber.

The bill charges a specially appointed group of educators, parents and community members with developing guidelines for teacher and leader evaluation systems, and then requires districts to develop evaluation systesms based on those guidelines. Districts could also adopt model evaluation systems developed at the state level.

The state-level guidelines will ensure the integrity of the evaluation systems and protect educators from poorly done and poorly intentioned evaluations.

For example, evaluation systems must be based on clear standards; use multiple measures of effectiveness, including student achievement and growth as a significant factor; use a four-level rating scale; be conducted regularly; and must provide specific, timely and relevant feedback to teachers and principals that is used to direct and support professional growth.

I look forward to starting the next phase of this important work.

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