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Evaluation reforms continue to make headway

PSEA is continuing to work to get major reforms to the state’s educator evaluation system across the finish line in the new legislative year.

The legislation, which has already passed the Senate, was approved by the House Education Committee late last year and awaits action by the full House.

“This is a major reform that will improve the evaluation system for educators across the state,’’ said PSEA President Rich Askey. “PSEA strongly supports the legislation, and we’re hopeful the House will soon vote to approve it.’’

The legislation has bipartisan support and was sponsored by Sen. Ryan Aument, R-Lancaster, and Rep. Jesse Topper, R-Bedford, in the Senate and House, respectively.

The bills attempt to use student performance results more wisely, both by reducing their weight in evaluation and by adjusting building-level results for student poverty indicators, since poverty clearly has an impact on student learning.

PSEA members have been particularly critical of the heavy reliance on student performance measures, the

majority of which are based on standardized tests. 

Key features of the legislation include:

  • Increase the classroom observation component from 50 percent to 70 percent of an evaluation for classroom teachers and from 80 percent to 90 percent for non-teaching professionals.
  • Reduce the student performance component from 50 percent to 30 percent of an evaluation for classroom teachers and from 20 percent to 10 percent for non-teaching professionals.
  • Adjust the building-level measure (i.e., SPP) using a poverty indicator.
  • Shorten the “needs improvement window” so that educators can receive an “unsatisfactory” rating if they receive two “needs improvement” ratings in four years, rather than in 10 years under current law.
  • Ensure there are no caps on the number of educators who can receive a “distinguished” rating.