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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: February 1, 2019 01:53 PM
From: Senator Ryan P. Aument
To: All Senate members
Subject: Educator Evaluation Reform
As the prime sponsor of the teacher evaluation system enacted in Act 82 of 2012, I have been committed to providing school districts, CTCs, and IUs with a system to improve student academic performance by giving our educators useful, meaningful, and actionable feedback to help them improve and share best practices.

The original system was intended to provide districts with the tools they need to identify effective teachers and in turn, identify, provide support to, and in some cases, terminate ineffective educators and principals.

Unfortunately, the current educator evaluation system does not match the original intent of the law. Administrators and teachers alike have expressed the same disappointment with the current system and the need for reform. To that end, I have been collaborating with teachers, administrators, and other stakeholders to create a new evaluation system that is accurate, fair, and meaningful.

The new system reworks the weights of the current system by increasing the observation portion from 50% to 70% of the total score, providing administrators with increased flexibility while also reducing student achievement data in the system.

This change was done in response to the consistent and chief complaint I have heard about the current system: Schools cannot dismiss ineffective teachers in high-performing schools and the overall ratings of effective teachers in low-performing schools are unfairly low due to the weight of the building level scores.

The increased observation and revised building score allows administrators the flexibility needed to provide counsel and supports to low-performing teachers or terminate ineffective teachers, while fairly recognizing high achieving teachers in our troubled schools.

Further, the new system will take into account the impact of poverty on student academic outcomes.

Over the last year, I have been convinced of the need to take into account the challenges that poverty can have on a teacher’s ability to teach and the overall school environment. Unless we account for this factor, low-performing, high poverty schools will not be able to attract high performing teachers, something students in those schools desperately need.

While the revised system is certainly different than the current system, it is built using many of the same goals as we had in 2012 but with the benefit of hindsight and the input of motivated stakeholders that truly want the best teachers in the classroom.

It is vital that we ensure all stakeholders have full confidence in our assessment and accountability systems. I am hopeful you will join me in revising this system and improving Pennsylvania’s accountability measures to the benefit of our schools, teachers, and students.

Introduced as SB751