Who Is In Charge

Districts eager for SB 191 pilot

Nearly a quarter of Colorado school districts have applied to participate in field-testing of new principal and teacher evaluation methods.

Teacher evaluationIt was “a surprise and an encouraging message” that the Department of Education received 41 applications, said Diana Sirko, deputy commissioner. “We look at this as very encouraging.” She said CDE had expected a couple of dozen applications at the most.

The applicants range from the Jefferson County Schools, the state’s largest with 85,000 students, to the 120-student Mountain Valley district in the San Luis Valley.

Other large districts on the list include Academy, Adams 12-Five Star, Boulder Valley, Brighton, Douglas County, Falcon, Poudre, St. Vrain Valley and Thompson.

About 39 percent of the applications came from rural districts, 30 percent from suburban areas, 22 percent from mountain districts and 9 percent from urban districts, based on the descriptions checked by districts on their applications. A group of nine southwestern Colorado districts applied together under the umbrella of the San Juan BOCES.

Pilot applicants
  • Academy
  • Adams 12-Five Star
  • Aspen
  • Boulder Valley
  • Brighton (partner)
  • Center
  • Charter School Institute (GOAL Academy, Pinnacle and Stone Creek Charter)
  • Crowley County
  • Custer County
  • Del Norte
  • Douglas County (partner)
  • Eagle County (partner)
  • Elbert
  • Falcon
  • Harrison (partner)
  • Jefferson County
  • Keenesburg
  • Kiowa County
  • Platte Canyon
  • Miami-Yoder
  • Moffat County
  • Mountain Valley
  • Poudre
  • Rocky Ford
  • St. Vrain Valley
  • Salida
  • San Juan BOCES (represents Bayfield, Dolores, Dove Creek, Durango, Ignacio, Mancos, Montezuma-Cortez, Pagosa Springs and Silverton)
  • South Routt
  • Telluride
  • Thompson
  • Trinidad
  • Valley
  • Wray

Read applications (101-page PDF). Document doesn’t include all applications from San Juan BOCES group.

While districts have a variety of evaluation systems in place, Senate Bill 10-191 changed the rules by requiring that at least 50 percent of principal and teacher evaluations be based on academic growth of students. The bill also requires annual evaluations and a tiered rating system for educators, and it specifies that teachers can be returned to probation if their evaluations are subpar.

The bill was the focus of intense controversy and negotiation during the 2010 legislative session, and a key provision of the final version was that new forms of evaluation would be pilot tested in selected districts before fully going into effect in 2016. The first phase of pilot testing starts this fall. (See this CDE chart for details of the pilot process.)

Districts will be chosen in three areas. Six to eight districts will be selected for the main pilot process. Another four to six districts will be selected as “partners” that will compare their existing evaluation systems against elements of the proposed state system in an effort to enhance the model state system with local experience.

Brighton, Douglas County, Eagle and Harrison, all of which have experience with evaluation systems, have applied to be partner districts. CDE is still accepting applications for this category.

And a third group of districts, also about four to six, will be selected for a broader program intended to help them implement not only new evaluation methods but also the new state content standards and the upcoming new state testing system. Lessons learned from this project are to be shared statewide. (See previous article about this program.)

Pilot district applicants will be notified if they’ve been selected by Aug. 10.

The pilot projects are just one part of the SB 10-191 implementation process. CDE staff members have prepared draft regulations for implementation of the law. The State Board of Education is scheduled to vote on final rules in November, and the legislature will have until February to review those rules. (Information about rule making, including links to drafts and timetables.)

A key decision that remains to be made is the amount of flexibility districts will have in customizing evaluation systems. (See this article for background.)

Also, CDE is working on a model evaluation system, and the State Council for Educator Effectiveness still has to recommend an appeals process for teachers who revert to probationary status because of low evaluations.

See CDE’s educator effectiveness page for more information.

meet the candidates

These candidates are running for Detroit school board. Watch them introduce themselves.

Nine candidates are vying for two seats on Detroit's school board in November. Seven submitted photos.

One candidate tells of a childhood in a house without heat.

Another describes the two-hour commute he made to high school every day to build a future that would one day enable him to give back to Detroit.

A third says her work as a student activist inspired her to run for school board as a recent high school grad.

These candidates are among nine people vying for two seats up for grabs on Detroit’s seven-member school board on Nov. 6. That includes one incumbent and many graduates of the district.

Chalkbeat is partnering with Citizen Detroit to present a school board candidate forum Thursday, Sept. 20 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at IBEW Local 58, 1358 Abbott St., Detroit.

Participants will have the opportunity to meet each candidate and ask questions in a speed-dating format.

In anticipation of that event, Citizen Detroit invited each of the candidates to make a short video introducing themselves to voters. Seven candidates made videos.

Watch them here:

School safety

Report lists litany of failings over police in Chicago schools

PHOTO: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Police officers stand alongside Lake Shore Drive in August as protesters decry violence and lack of investment in African-American neighborhoods and schools

The Chicago Police Department doesn’t adequately screen and train the officers it assigns to Chicago Public Schools, and their roles in schools are poorly defined, according to a sharply critical report released today by the Office of Inspector General Joseph Ferguson.

The report lists a litany of failings, including basic administration: There is no current agreement between the police department and the district governing the deployment of school resource officers, or SROs, and neither the schools nor the police even have a current list of the officers working in schools this year.

The inspector general’s report also mentions several sets of SRO resources and best practices created and endorsed by the federal government, then notes that Chicago hasn’t adopted any of them. “CPD’s current lack of guidance and structure for SROs amplifies community concerns and underscores the high probability that students are unnecessarily becoming involved in the criminal justice system, despite the availability of alternate solutions,” says the report.

Chalkbeat reported in August about incidents in which SROs used batons and tasers on students while intervening in routine disciplinary matters.

Scrutiny of SROs is nothing new, and is part of the broader CPD consent decree brokered this week between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. That agreement calls for better training and vetting of SROs, as well as a clearer delineation of their roles on campuses—including a prohibition against participating in routine school discipline — beginning with the 2019-20 school year.

Read more: How the police consent decree could impact Chicago schools

But the report from Ferguson’s office says that the consent decree doesn’t go far enough. It chastises police for not pledging to include the community in the creation of its agreement with the school district, nor in the establishment of hiring guidelines; and for not creating a plan for evaluating SROs’ performance, among other recommendations. In addition, the report criticizes the police department for delaying the reforms until the 2019-20 school year. A draft of the inspector general’s report was given to the police department in early August in hopes that some of the issues could be resolved in time for the school year that began last week. The police department asked for an extension for its reply.