The state schools superintendent is asking lawmakers for extra time to implement a new teacher evaluation system.
Janet Barresi has asked for an extra two years to finish putting together the Teacher and Leader Effectiveness system, which would tie teacher pay, tenure and employment to measures such as student test grades and administrator observations.
Barresi's chief of staff, Joel Robison, said many details have yet to be worked out for a system that is set to go into effect in the fall.
“This is very difficult work with very high stakes,” Robison said. “We just want to make sure that we do everything that we can do, get all the information we can get, get as much input as we can, to make sure when the system is implemented, it is implemented correctly.”
Sen. John Ford and Rep. Earl Sears, who authored the original reform, were already asking their fellow legislators to give the agency an extra year. Now they're amending Senate Bill 426 to ask for a two-year delay.
Sears said he's willing to give Barresi and the state Education Department more time.
“This is such a major change,” said Sears, R-Bartlesville. “Let's get it right the first time.”
Ford said he's heard from educators and superintendents that the process should slow down so it's done correctly. Input from educators throughout the state is vital, he said.
“It's got to be something we all have input in and buy into,” said Ford, R-Bartlesville.
Teacher and Leader Effectiveness will be the first statewide teacher evaluation system.
Now, teacher evaluation systems are set by local districts or school principals. Most often, teachers are given raises based on their education and years of employment.
Under the new models, teachers will be evaluated on student test scores, classroom management and other factors. Teachers will receive one of five ratings:
Other changes will include the manner in which teachers earn tenure and the practice of forcing districts to fire teachers who are rated as “ineffective” for two consecutive years.
But questions remain about how to give specific, quantitative measures for classes that don't have state tests, such as music, art and physical education.
Education groups support the reform and the two-year delay.
Linda Hampton, president of the Oklahoma Education Association, said her group has been pushing for a delay. “We all want it to work,” she said. “We want it to be the best it can be.”
Teachers support the reform, said Ginger Tinney, executive director of Professional Oklahoma Educators. But pushing through the process too quickly could be disastrous.
“This has some serious consequences,” Tinney said. “This affects people and their children. This is important. Let's calm down. Let's slow down. Let's get it done, and let's do it correctly.”