In 2010, Colorado passed the landmark teacher and principal effectiveness law, Senate Bill 191, or the Great Teachers and Leaders Law. The legislation places Colorado as a leader in education reform by requiring that teachers and principals receive annual evaluations to determine effectiveness, measured in part by student academic growth. The bill also ends forced teacher placement (assigning teachers to schools without their or a principal’s consent), a practice that harms schools, teachers, and kids.
Here are a few highlights of Great Teachers and Leaders, signed into law May 2010:
Making teacher and principal evaluations consistent and fair
- All teachers and principals will receive annual evaluations starting in 2013, at least half of which will be based on student academic growth.
- Student academic growth (measuring how far an individual student has progressed in a year) will be measured by a series of tools (such as CSAP, district assessments, and student growth objectives), which must consider diverse student needs, including special education status.
Earning and keeping non-probationary status (Colorado’s version of tenure)
- A teacher can earn non-probationary status based on three consecutive effective ratings and can lose non-probationary status based on two consecutive ineffective ratings.
- Teachers can keep their non-probationary status if they move from one district to another.
School-based hiring for all teachers
- Principals can now hire teachers through mutual consent, meaning the teacher, principal, and other school staff agree that the hire is a good fit.
- Any non-probationary teacher unable to find a job after one year (or two hiring cycles) will go on unpaid leave until he or she finds a job.
Protecting effective teachers
- If districts are forced to lay off teachers, they will be able to keep the most effective teachers by basing decisions on performance, rather than the current “last in, first out” practice.
Stand Colorado members played a critical role in passing this legislation. Hundreds of teachers, parents, and community members made phone calls and sent emails to legislators, wrote letters to the editor, lobbied at the Capitol, secured endorsements from civic leaders, and testified in support of the bill. Their investment sent the message that there is a new, bold voice for Colorado’s children, ready to address tough issues to improve public schools.