A high school science teacher holding a digital tablet and explaining a chemistry model to two of his students during class. (Getty Images.)
Members of several education administration groups and some superintendents support a new Ohio bill that would change the way teacher evaluations are done, along with certain contracts and school screening requirements.
“Just like businesses, schools also benefit by removing unnecessary and burdensome regulations while maintaining strong accountability measures,” said Tom Perkins, of the Buckeye Association of School Administrators on Tuesday.
Perkins told the Senate Education Committee that many of the bill’s policies are “often recommended” by the members of BASA, the Ohio Association of School Business Officials, the Ohio School Boards Association, the Alliance for High Quality Education and the Ohio Association of Secondary School Administrators, all of whom supported the measure in a joint statement.
“Taken together, we believe the provisions of SB 168 will reduce burdensome and unnecessary regulations, vest more decision-making back into local communities that know their students best, and better equip our school leaders to prepare our students for the future,” the groups told the comittee.
The main topic of proponent testimony was the bill’s changes to teacher evaluations. Under the bill, local school districts would be allowed to “develop and use their own frameworks for teacher evaluation, instead of using a framework developed by the State Board of Education,” according to an analysis of the bill by the Legislative Service Commission.
Ohio teachers are currently evaluated by the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System, which Perkins called “vitally important systems” which have “implementation variability from district to district.”
The new bill would build on the system by allowing locally-honed frameworks, according to Perkins.
“Doing so has the potential to spark unique and innovative outcomes that could become a new model for districts across the state,” he said.
SB 168 would also change qualifications for “senior or lead professional educators, holders of a professional pupil services license, holders of professional administrator or alternative superintendent licenses and nonteachers” who are employed as teachers.
“The bill permits a school district, community school or STEM school to emply an unlicensed individual as a teacher, provided the individual holds at least a master’s degree and has successfully completed an exam prescribed by the State Board (of Education) for the subject area in which the individual will teach,” the LSC analysis states.
Teachers also wouldn’t have to have supplemental contracts with districts in order to teach classes “outside the normal school day,” as is current law.
Buckeye Valley Local Schools superintendent Paul Craft also stood in support of the bill, saying the bill has “several meaningful steps toward clarifying requirements and improving flexibility for local school districts.”
“Local control and smaller government are ideals toward which our state should aspire and this bill includes several small but meaningful steps in that direction,” Craft said.
He said the current teacher evaluation systems have driven improvement, but “can become more and more bureaucratic and bogged down in teacher contract language and such.”
The bill will be open to opponent testimony in the Senate Education Committee before the body votes on the bill, and before it can go ahead for a full Senate vote.
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