Testing phase for teacher evaluation system

A new proposed teacher evaluation system is headed to a testing phase in some Minnesota schools.

A working group appointed by the state Department of Education approved its final recommendations for the teacher evaluation system Thursday evening.

The recommendations call for yearly evaluations of teachers, based partly on student performance and how well a teacher engages students in the classroom.

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The evaluation system was mandated last year by the Legislature. It's required to go into place statewide in 2014.

Group member Jim Bartholomew, the educational policy director for the Minnesota Business Partnership, said the task force needs a few districts to try out the system.

"I think it would be good to hear from teachers from school boards from principals and others about how does this work for you," Bartholomew said. "Did the model we come up with, is it practical?"

Mary Catherine Ricker, who heads up the union that represents teachers in St. Paul, said some teachers say they have gone more than a decade without an evaluation.

"Every teacher will have an evaluation every year and we can guarantee that to you," Ricker said. "You will never go 12 years without getting feedback on your performance."

The new evaluation system will operate as a pilot for a few school districts next year, until statewide implementation in fall 2014.

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