Teachers and principals who are on the frontlines in our schools are the key to preparing our students. They deserve adequate preparation, meaningful development and mentoring, regular feedback and support, and appropriate recognition.
Illinois has come a long way in this area. In 2010, the legislature enacted the Performance Evaluation Reform Act, which overhauled the state’s old ineffective teacher evaluation practices and ensured that evaluations are not based exclusively on standardized test scores, but on multiple measures. The new law requires rigorous training for evaluators, formal and informal classroom observations, and inclusion of student growth data.
In 2011, we helped pass SB7, which built upon the new evaluation law to ensure that the most talented educators stay in the classroom. The bill ended seniority-based layoff systems, required positive evaluations before awarding tenure, and streamlined the cumbersome process that made it difficult to dismiss truly ineffective educators.
There is still work to do:
- Implementing evaluations: By 2016, all school districts will be using the improved evaluations – and implementation across 860+ school districts is a challenge. We support the state’s efforts, through the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council, to make implementation smooth and effective.
- Getting the most effective educators in the neediest schools: For a whole host of reasons, there is a talent gap in our lowest-performing schools. We support incentivizing great teachers and leaders to work in the neediest areas so that all students have access to a great teacher.
- Building strong pipelines: Getting great talent into the teaching profession is essential to maintaining a strong teaching workforce over time. High starting salaries and compensation systems that elevate the profession will encourage more top candidates to choose education. We support strong teacher prep programs that prepare candidates for the realities of teaching, and alternative certification routes for non-traditional candidates who want to go into the teaching profession.