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Committee supports extending teacher evaluation deadline

The Education Committee Wednesday morning took a straw vote and unanimously supported giving school districts another year to pilot and then implement their teacher and principal evaluation systems.

The vote was not official because the state Department of Education is in the process of negotiating a waiver of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), commonly known as No Child Left Behind, and has been advised to make no changes to the evaluation statute until that waiver is approved.

The committee, however, heard compelling testimony last week that districts need more time to implement their evaluation systems. The deadline currently in statute requires schools to pilot their systems in this school year and implement them in 2015-2016.

A bill, L.D. 38, An Act to Allow Sufficient Time for Implementation of the Performance Evaluation and Professional Growth System for Educators, would require districts to pilot in 2015-2016 and implement in 2016-2017. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Brian Hubbell, D-Bar Harbor, and co-sponsored by Sen. Brian Langley, R-Hancock.

The bill would not change the date when local districts have to reach consensus on their plans. And, nothing precludes a district that is ready to move forward with their system prior to the new deadlines from doing so.

The state DOE plans to submit its ESEA waiver language in March, and it is hoped the U.S. DOE would respond quickly to allow the Legislature to officially change the deadlines in statute this spring.

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