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Passage Of Senate Bill Could Change How State Evaluates Teachers

Flickr user Phil Ostroff

Unlike its House companion, Senate Bill 1403 does not rely heavily on test scores taken from high-stakes exams to evaluate teachers.

Originally the bill included a provision that mandated 25 percent of a teacher's evaluation was directly related to students' grades on the state’s end-of-course exams.

"We are not going to put as much emphasis in the future on high-stakes testing," said Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, the bill's author, "but its really more about local control more than top down from the state."

In fact the largest change is that a majority of a teacher's evaluation will come from the local district’s performance standard. 

However, the bill does not sit as well with some teacher’s groups. Patti Quincy is with the Texas Chapter of the American Federation of Teachers.

"Our major concern is that these bills still rely heavily on standardized tests. And again, teachers would be judged on a standardized test that have not been validated. We are actually going without ratings this year and possible next year because we don’t know what the STAAR test actually measures. So this is not the appropriately time to begin a new appraisal system," Quincy said.

Another change to the bill would allow teachers who obtain a proficient rating to opt out of the evaluation process.

Patrick said he also kept the minimum salary schedule for annual teacher raises.  The bill passed unanimously in the Senate and now heads to the House for a vote.